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.
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.
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.