1. Local Weather

Tampa Bay is the coldest it’s been in two years; overnight freeze possible

Temperatures Tuesday reached the 30s for the first time since 2018. Wednesday will start there, too.
Jaclyn Campbell, 23, left, braves the cold temperatures while walking with her colleague Tysjah Pitchford during their lunch break in downtown Tampa in December. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
Jaclyn Campbell, 23, left, braves the cold temperatures while walking with her colleague Tysjah Pitchford during their lunch break in downtown Tampa in December. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]
Published Jan. 21

Tampa Bay just went from near-record warmth to near-freezing overnight as temperatures dropped to the 30s for the first time in two years.

The last time Tampa saw temperatures this cold was Jan. 18, 2018, when inland portions of the bay area dropped below freezing and iguanas dropped from their perches in South Florida trees. And while it won’t get quite that cold this time around (so no snow here), it’s a dramatic shift from an incredibly warm start to the year.

Related: It's so cold in Florida, iguanas are falling from trees

Three heat records have been tied so far in January and one broken. Jan. 13 tied the record high of 83 degrees set in 1993, Jan. 15 hit the 1989 high of 82 degrees, Jan. 16 matched 1947’s record high of 83 and Jan. 11 broke the 2013 record high of 83 degrees.

Then, Spectrum Bay News 9 meteorologist Mike Clay said, things changed overnight and the whole country switched weather patterns.

“It was cold in the west, but there was record warmth in the east,” he said. “We call it the January thaw. The pattern flip flopped, and now the east is cold and the west has warmed up some.”

Clay said the freeze comes courtesy of a change in the jet stream that shot cold air from up north eastbound and down.

A tremendous amount of cold air has been building in Alaska for most of the month, Clay said. And when it releases, you can be guaranteed it’ll make its way to Florida.

Related: It's not that cold in Florida. But why does it feel so cold?

Wednesday will start with temperatures hovering right around freezing for most of the region, but coastal areas will stay in the upper 30s. It will be another cool day with temperatures falling just short of the 60-degree range. Just north of the bay area, up in the Nature Coast, it’ll get into the 20s.

The National Weather Service has issued a wind-chill advisory for the whole bay area and freeze watches for Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando counties overnight until 9 a.m.

The cold won’t last, though, as things should get back to the seasonal average of 70-degree highs with lows around 50 by the end of the week. Clay said January should end with some pretty active weather. He said we could get about four more cold fronts over the next two weeks but nothing as cold as this one and nothing as warm as the front half of the month.


  1. Kite boarders take advantage of windy conditions on Friday, Feb. 21, 2020 in St. Petersburg. Windy weather caused some delays at Tampa International Airport. The expected cold also prompted Pinellas officials to open cold weather shelters Friday.
  2. We’ll wake to temperatures in the 50s Friday morning, with cloudy conditions expected to linger throughout the day.
  3. Justin Callahan, 34, from St. Pete, looks out to the water as the sunrises on a crips morning at North Shore Park on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019 in St. Petersburg.
  4. David Smith, a resident of the Palm Grove Village Mobile Home Park, Pinellas Park, shows the damage to his home, Friday, February 7, 2020, after high winds, Thursday night, toppled an Australian Pine tree onto the structure.  "I was in the bathroom when it hit," said Smith.
  5. Photos from Bay News 9 of storm damage in central Pinellas County caused by strong storms that moved through late Thursday night.
  6. Clouds build in downtown St. Petersburg in this file photo from August 2019. A system moving across the Gulf of Mexico is expected to bring strong storms to our area tonight, said meteorologist Juli Marquez of Spectrum Bay News 9.
  7. A cold front approaching the Florida peninsula could bring strong storms to the Tampa Bay area on Thursday night.
  8. Shelley Morgan, of Clearwater, keeps herself warm with a jacket and towel while searching for druzy, deposits of fine crystals Morgan says are found in voids on chert, a hard, fine-grained sedimentary rock composed of crystals of quartz, which lay exposed during low tide on Thursday, January 30, 2020, on the Dunedin Causeway.
  9. Twitter user Mark Kelly (@MarkKellyWPBF) posted a video of what looked like snow flurries in South Florida.
  10. Michael Stevens, 28, left, works to stay warm with friend Cash Holland, 21, right, outside the Boys and Girls Club of Tarpon Springs' cold night shelter on Wednesday, January 22, 2020, where the homeless men were among 28 people who took refuge from cooler weather which dipped to 36 degrees in north Pinellas County overnight. The shelter is funded through Pinellas County's Health and Human Services department and provided shelter and a hot breakfast for those who came.
  11. An iguana lies draped on a tree limb as it waits for the sunrise, Wednesday, in Surfside, Fla. The National Weather Service Miami posted Tuesday on its official Twitter that residents shouldn't be surprised if they see iguanas falling from trees as lows drop into the 30s and 40s. The low temperatures stun the invasive reptiles, but the iguanas won't necessarily die. That means many will wake up as temperatures rise Wednesday. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
  12. Jaclyn Campbell, 23, left, braves the cold temperatures while walking with her colleague Tysjah Pitchford during their lunch break in downtown Tampa in December.