JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As if Mother Nature knew to be right on schedule, a heavy blow of cold Canadian air arrived setting up the first freeze of the 2020/2021 winter season for 3 nights in a row.
Although your calendar shows winter begins on Dec. 21, the cold often precedes the astronomical start of the season, which is why meteorological winter begins on Dec. 1.
Jacksonville’s first freeze of the season typically hits in early December. Over the last 100 years, the average first freeze occurs on Dec. 9 in Jacksonville but over the last two decades, the date shifted earlier to Dec. 3.
December 2020 reached a low in Jacksonville of 29° on Dec 1, 28° Dec 2, and 32° Dec 3.
The trend continues
The first freeze of the year comes almost exactly on the one year anniversary to last year’s first freeze on Dec. 3. Although the 2019 freeze arrived on schedule, you’ll recall there was hardly a winter. Only two other light freezes occurred in January.
That made up for the year prior when 12 nights froze in January 2018 -- almost one year’s average in just one month.
Typically the temps drop below 32° fifteen times: once in November, four times in December, six night in January, three in February and 1 in March.
What was the earliest freeze on record?
Back in 1954, the earliest freeze on record stunned the city on Nov. 3 when the low temperature tumbled to 30°. Other areas felt the blast that night, including 29° in Gainesville and 27° at St. Simons Island.