Why winter hasn’t felt so cold

File photo of palm trees and sunshine. The winter so far this season has featured mostly above-average temperatures. (Pixabay)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- – It may be hard to believe, but we have already cleared the halfway mark of meteorological winter.

And it hasn’t felt all that wintery. Except for a huge cold spell right around Christmas, much of December and January have featured above-average temperatures.

The month of December in Jacksonville featured 14 days with high temperatures above average. The average high for the month is in the mid- to upper-60s.

January has been even more impressive.

Of the 23 days so far this month, 17 have featured above-average highs. This includes a record high of 84 set on January 19.

Why so warm?

So why has the winter been so warm? A large part is due to La Nina.

The same atmospheric system that is responsible for above-average hurricane seasons often creates above-average temperatures in Southeast Georgia and Northeast Florida.

In a typical year, the jet stream periodically dips into Florida and the Gulf, allowing cold air to push into the area.

Typical winter jet stream pattern

This changes in a La Nina year.

In a La Nina pattern, the jet stream remains elevated to the north. This keeps the chilly air well away from the region, resulting in warmer-than-average highs.

This jet stream pattern also keeps storm systems away from the area. This often results in quiet winter conditions, but can also bring drought conditions.

La Nina winter jet stream pattern

The La Nina pattern does not mean chilly can’t move in. This has already occurred twice this winter, one significant blast around Christmas and a second cooldown in mid-January.

How long will this last?

La Nina winter patterns normally stick around throughout an entire season, and this winter will likely not be the exception.

The 8-14 day temperature outlook from the Climate Prediction Center again shows above-average temperatures across all of Florida and most of Georgia.

8-14 day temperature outlook

In fact, the updated monthly outlook keeps the entire region in above-average temperatures for February.

Cold spells are still very possible in the stretch, similar to what we’ve experienced already this winter, but a prolonged stretch of below-average temperatures is becoming unlikely.

February temperature outlook

So if you like the warmth, you’ll probably enjoy the remainder of winter 2022-2023.


About the Author:

David Heckard is The Weather Authority's Assistant Chief Meteorologist.