Despite an early glimpse of fall this week in which temperatures plunged into the 50s, Florida is expected to experience warmer-than-normal temperatures this winter, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The prediction was announced Thursday during a teleconference. Experts from the agency said the U.S. will experience its third consecutive year of La Niña, which has happened only twice before — in the mid-1970s and around the year 2000. The phenomenon typically brings colder temperatures and above-average rainfall to the northern part of the U.S. and higher-than-average temperatures and less rain to the South, according to the National Weather Service.
The NOAA predicts that from December of this year to February of next year, Florida will have a 40-50% chance of above-normal temperatures.
In Tampa, the average temperatures for December, January and February are 64.9 degrees, 62 degrees and 64.7 degrees, respectively. The data comes from 1991 to 2020 and was last updated in December 2021, the weather service said.
Much of the Tampa Bay area and more southwestern counties in the state will likely have a few freezes, especially in the areas north of Tampa Bay, like Hernando and Citrus counties, the weather service said. However, the cold spells won’t last long.
In addition to a warmer winter, forecasters expect it to be drier. Florida has a 40-50% chance to see less rainfall than average in the winter months.
“The greatest changes of drier-than-average conditions are forecast in portions of California, the Southwest, the southern Rockies, southern Plains, Gulf Coast and much of the southeast,” the agency stated.
Despite forecasters predicting less rain, the chances of drought are about average.
La Niña conditions are forecast to slowly fade by spring, the National Weather Service said. By late winter, conditions could shift more toward average.
“We are anticipating that rainfall will be below normal while temperatures should average out slightly above normal, but could vary greatly from week to week,” the weather service said.