Phil Lewis: Naples winter was coldest on record

Phil Lewis

It’s official.

The winter of 2010 was the coldest ever in Naples or at least since 1942, when the National Weather Service first started recording daily temperatures in the city.

Of course cold is a relative term. The average daily temperature during January, February and March was 61.3 degrees, which would qualify as quite balmy for visitors from northern climes.

For Naples, it was an average 4.7 degrees below normal.

Naples wasn’t alone.

West Palm Beach and Miami Beach also recorded the lowest average temperature ever during January, February and March. They’ve been keeping records in Palm Beach since 1888 and down on Miami Beach since 1927, according to Robert Molleda, a meteorologist at the weather service’s Miami/South Florida Forecast Office.

In case you were wondering, the culprit was “the persistence of a mid/upper level trough over eastern North America and a mid/upper level ridge over western North America.”

This trough-and-ridge state of affairs repeatedly forced unusual blasts of cold air deep into Florida, especially during March.

The weather service confirmed it was the coldest March on record as well.

The average daily temperature this past month in Naples was 63.6 degrees, breaking the previous average low of 64.3 degrees recorded back in 1969.

Modella reported that cooler than normal Gulf of Mexico waters kept the daily highs much lower than normal.

During a typical March, the average daytime high in Naples is between 79 and 80 degrees. This past March, the average high was only 71.9.

West Palm Beach recorded its second coldest March on record with 64.1 degrees. The record was 63.7 degrees set 95 years ago.

March also was a wet month in South Florida, especially on the east coast. West Palm Beach recorded 10.83 inches of rain, The fifth wettest March on record. A typical March brings less than 4 inches of rain.

The weather service chalked it up to “atmospheric energy and instability caused by a strong subtropical jet stream over the Gulf of Mexico and southern United States.” That’s called a strong El Nino winter.

So what can we expect the remainder of the spring?

More below-normal temperatures and an average amount of rain, the weather service says.

But, the El Nino influence will begin to weaken by May. Then we can expect “neutral conditions” this summer.

We take that to mean that the threat of an early season tropical storm or hurricane will be neutral as well.

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