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Freezes over for January but February’s cold may be brutal

Long range forecast calls for prolonged cold spell first two weeks of month

Temperature map depicts the most favored category, either above-normal (A) or below-normal (B) with the solid lines giving the probability (>50%) of this more likely category (above or below).
Temperature map depicts the most favored category, either above-normal (A) or below-normal (B) with the solid lines giving the probability (>50%) of this more likely category (above or below).

Milder seasonal weather is expected to round out the last days of January ensuring the month’s average temperature ends up significantly above normal, but the forecast for the first weeks of February is calling for anything but warm.

Based on the long-range forecast, February’s cold could be brutal.

In spite of the recent freezing weather, 2020 got off to a warm start, not just around north Florida but the entire Southeast.

Through Wednesday, Jacksonville’s average temperature for the month was 8° above normal at 61° as several record warm days in the mid-80s offset two 32° mornings earlier this week.

Temperatures averaged 8-9 degrees above average in Jacksonville first 20 days of January.
Temperatures averaged 8-9 degrees above average in Jacksonville first 20 days of January. (NOAA)

Early February looks to go back towards more seasonal or even below normal temperatures with the potential for several freezes for the first half of the month.

Why the prolonged chill?

It has to do with the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO), which dramatically impacts in the mid-latitudes by contributing to Arctic air outbreaks during the winter months across the central and eastern portions of the United States, including various other extreme events.

MJO is the result of changes in Pacific rainfall and winds which impact the U.S. jet stream, which pumps cold southward at times.

Considerable agreement among model forecasts points to the MJO setting up an upper-level trough over eastern North America resulting in a southward flowing jetstream.

Blue represents lover atmospheric heights and cooler air at 18000 FT  setting up an intrusion of cold air over the southeast.
Blue represents lover atmospheric heights and cooler air at 18000 FT setting up an intrusion of cold air over the southeast.

North Florida has a better than 60% chance for below-normal temperatures over the next three weeks while southern Florida’s chances of above and below normal temperatures are equal.


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