Florida is hot, it’s muggy, it’s dry, it’s wet, it’s sunny—and usually can’t make up its mind.
Unless you live north of Lake Okeechobee, you likely don’t know what weather under 50 degrees Fahrenheit feels like. And in the slight chance that you have experienced that seemingly large dip in temperature, consider yourself lucky.
Climate researchers have gathered and pieced together data from the last three decades that show the country is getting warmer. Aka: if everywhere else is getting warmer, then Florida is getting HOTTER. The data also revealed Florida is getting more rain.
Every 10 years, much like the Census, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Center for Environmental Information (NCEI) redacts climate and weather data known as “climate normals.”
This data is used as a foundation for comparing the climate we experience today to what we would “normally” expect to happen based on the past 30 years.
The data, which was released last week, shows that temperatures are warmer across the board, and conditions in the southeast quarter of the country are trending in a wetter direction. Terrific…
“This new set of normals reflects, essentially, the fingerprint of climate change, as has been going on in recent years,” said Mike Palecki, the U.S Climate Normals project manager at NCEI.
“The differences between the Southwest going towards a drier climate and most of the rest of the U.S. going towards a wetter climate are indicative not only of temperature carrying more water vapor but also changes in atmospheric circulation,” added Palecki.
David Zierden, a climatologist at Florida State University, said the Sunshine State in specific is 5 percent wetter annually when compared to the 30-year average.
Regarding temperature, the average high in the state only went up three-tenths of a degree between 1991 and 2020 from 75.3 degrees Fahrenheit. But the problem isn’t in the average highs but the average lows.
“A trend we’ve been seeing over the past few decades: It’s the nighttime low temperatures that are warming more than the daytime highs,” Zierden added.
The new normals are up more than half a degree from 52.1 since the last normals were calculated. Therefore, while the high temperatures aren’t screaming a massive change, the low temperatures are getting warmer than ever.
Temperature only tells one side of the coin, but it does contribute to other climate factors such as the susceptibility to hurricane formation in the Atlantic.
As the water in the ocean surrounding Florida, the Caribbean, Mexico, Bahamas, and others, fuel for hurricanes becomes abundant. The heat is also expanding the water, causing a rise in sea levels and altering wildlife patterns.
All in all, Florida—when you step out in the summer or even in the colder months of the year, it’s not just your imagination when you say “Is it getting hotter outside?”
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Chris began his writing as a hobby while attending Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Florida. Today he and his wife live in the Orlando area with their three children and dog.