Jacksonville saw a high of 83 degrees on January 1, 2019 - the city’s hottest New Year’s Day on record.
The previous record of 81 degrees was set back in 1967.
“The hottest temperature ever recorded in January is 85, and that was back on January 30th of 2013,” said Nate McGinnis, a Meteorologist at the National Weather Service (NWS) in Jacksonville.
According to McGinnis, the average temperature in Jacksonville for all of 2018 was 70.2 degrees. “With Jacksonville we have over 140 years of record, almost 150, and it looks like that was in the top 20 warmest years,” he said. “And then 2017 was actually the sixth warmest.”
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And McGinnis says those warming temperatures will likely increase the amount of precipitation, the severity of storms and the risk for flooding in Jacksonville.
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“The ocean takes awhile to heat up and cool down,” he said. “So if you have a pattern of warming temperatures, you’d expect the water to respond.”
“I think it’s inevitable that by increasing the heat content in our oceans - say the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic, especially for our area - the trend is that if you get a storm in that location and the environment is favorable, you have to really watch it closely when it comes to the severity of the system, as we saw with Hurricane Michael.”
According to new information posted on the state Office of Insurance Regulation website, estimated insured losses from Hurricane Michael in October have now topped $4.65 billion. The total estimated insured losses from Hurricane Irma the year before is more than $11 billion, with 37,279 claims filed in Duval County alone.
But, said McGinnis, warmer temperatures and oceans don’t translate into more storms.
“You have to have a storm in the area that’s healthy that can take advantage of those warm waters,” said McGinnis. “It’s not just like, ‘oh we have warm waters, therefore storms.’ You need a storm to be present to take advantage of those waters, and that can be a little more variable with the atmosphere every year depending on the favorability of tropical cyclone development.”
While there’s no official forecast out yet, McGinnis says conditions indicate the upcoming tropical season may be less active than usual. “Outside of just monitoring our water temperatures, there’s a very weak El Niño, which is typically not favorable for tropical cyclone development,” he said.
In the short term, McGinnis says foggy conditions will stick around until a cold front moves through northeast Florida on Friday evening. That system could be accompanied by storms. “But right now it doesn’t look like the severe threat is too high,” McGinnis said. “Maybe just some general thunder and maybe a few gusty winds.”
Once that cold front comes in, McGinnis expects temperatures in Jacksonville to get back to normal for this time of year. And he said conditions should stay pretty clear and dry for the following week or so.