Editor’s note: This best of In the Know column was originally published in March 2013.
Q: With the rare snow in the south of Arizona, I am wondering when Naples last saw snow, if ever?
— Jim Stahly, Naples and Normal, Ill.
A: Despite occasional sightings of snowflakes, an accumulation of snow has never been recorded in Naples, at least according to weather records for the last 70 years.
The area's average total snowfall, measured in tenths of an inch, is recorded as a series of zeros across the board since the Southeast Regional Climate Center began keeping records in 1942.
Of course, this doesn't count “snowfall” seen every year during the Festival of Lights downtown, piles of the white stuff at the annual Snowfest, honeydew flakes falling from area trees infested with spiraling whiteflies, or even a seasonal dusting from Mexican clover blooms on local lawns (see second question below).
“Officially, there has been no report of snow in Naples. Ever,” said Tyler Mauldin, an NBC-2 meteorologist (when this column was originally published). “That's not to say residents didn't see a couple snowflakes on January 19, 1977, but nothing has ever been recorded officially.”
Snowfall anywhere in Florida is rare, but the last widely reported occasion in South Florida occurred Jan. 19, 1977, when the city of Miami received the only snowfall in its recorded history, the Miami Herald reported.
Flurries also were reported three years ago in the Sunshine State, but not in South Florida. In January 2010, freezing temperatures occurred just before sunrise on a couple of consecutive days even in coastal areas of Collier County, but snow was not reported.
Snow requires the combination of low temperatures and moisture in the atmosphere. Warm, humid places, such as Florida, have significant moisture in the air, but temperatures are rarely low enough to produce snow, according to the National Snow & Ice Data Center.
Temperatures below 32 degrees in Naples' coastal area are seen only an average of two to three times a decade, according to the National Weather Service. Naples-area residents have reported seeing snowflakes from time to time, but those sightings usually are east of Interstate 75, where inland temperatures are cooler in the winter.
January is Naples' coldest month, followed by February, December and March, according to the Southeast Regional Climate Center, which averages daily, monthly, seasonal and annual extreme temperatures from data compiled since the '40s.
Naples' average minimum temperature is 54.1 degrees in January, 55 in February, 56 in December, and 58.9 in March. Low temperatures average in the 60s during April, May, October and November, and in the low 70s during June, July, August and September.
The coldest date in Naples reportedly was Jan. 20, 1977, the day of President Jimmy Carter's inauguration, when the temperature dropped to 26 degrees here, according to the climate center.
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