Winter weather for Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year’s? we will see.
Although South Florida is known for its mild climate, which motivates people from all over the country and the world to visit the Treasure Coast during the winter months, the past tells us that there have been exceptions on holidays.
While many of those who live in the area do so seasonally to avoid snow and cold, children here grow up seeing it in holiday movies, cultivating distant dreams of sudden snow days or opening the window to a fresh blanket of white powder.
A “white Christmas” — or a white Thanksgiving or a New Year’s — has never been recorded on the Treasure Coast, and it’s been nearly half a century since snow was last recorded here at all, during January’s famous cold snap. 1977.
Before that, it had been nearly 80 years since snow had been reported in the area. In 1899, according to the National Weather Service, a band of snow extended from Fort Myers to Fort Pierce. This held the southernmost snowfall record in Florida until 1977, when it was set in Miami.
With only two waves recorded in at least 124 years, it’s safe to bet it won’t snow at all this winter, with the odds of holiday snow even more astronomical. But that doesn’t mean it won’t get cold.
Just last year, residents experienced an unusually cold Christmas. According to National Weather Service data collected at Treasure Coast International Airport in Fort Pierce, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were the coldest since at least 1999, when records stopped there. Looking at other locations in Fort Pierce, this is likely the coldest since 1995, when temperatures dropped below freezing.
more: Temperatures drop into the 30s on Christmas on the Treasure Coast
But there have also been instances of severe holiday weather, notably the 1984 Thanksgiving storm, which saw 70 mph winds and torrential rain hit the Treasure Coast over Thanksgiving weekend.
While it’s too early to forecast accurately over the holidays, Cassie Leahy, a meteorologist with the Melbourne-based National Weather Service, said Thanksgiving through New Year’s falls within the region’s dry season, which typically runs from October through February.
“We’ve really stopped seeing daily thunderstorms,” Leahy said. “We can still get cold fronts, we can still get clear precipitation, but we don’t see daily convection occurring.”
As for temperatures, Leahy said it’s still too early to tell, pointing to outliers like last year, when temperatures were below normal.
Here’s a look at what National Weather Service data collected at Treasure Coast International Airport over the past 20 years can tell us about what weather to expect this year’s holidays:
Since 2003, Thanksgiving Day temperatures have averaged 77.9 degrees, while the average low temperature has been 55.55 degrees. Rain was rare on Thanksgiving, averaging 0.003 inch, and only two instances had any precipitation at all recorded.
Turkey’s hottest day in the past 20 years was in 2017, when highs were recorded at 84 degrees. The coldest year was 2008, when the low dropped to 38. The year with the greatest rainfall was 2021, with 0.05 inches of precipitation.
Looking back 20 years, on November 23 — the date of Thanksgiving this year — the weather had changed quite a bit. Highs averaged 79.55, with lows at 60.1 on average. Rain was slightly more common, with an average of 0.049, and rainfall was recorded five times.
The hottest November 23 came in 2004, when maximum temperatures rose to 89 degrees. The coldest was 2019, when lows dropped to 43. The wettest day of 2015 was November 23, which saw 0.49 inches.
Since 2003, Christmas Eve temperatures have averaged 76.1 degrees, while average lows have been 57.85. Drought trends continued through the winter, with precipitation averaging 0.0155 inch. Rainfall, even if not snow, has been recorded on only seven of the last 20 Christmas Eves.
The hottest Christmas night in the past 20 years came in 2014, when the temperature reached 84 degrees. Last year was the coldest, when temperatures dropped to 36 degrees. The largest rainfall was in 2004, with 0.17 inches.
Christmas Day was much the same, although data on high and low temperatures for 2005 is not available. Average highs were about 74.95 degrees, while lows were about 56.32. Average precipitation was more than on Christmas Eve, at 0.149 inch, and some precipitation occurred on half the days.
The hottest Christmas day since 2003 came in 2006, when the temperature reached 83 degrees. Last year was the coldest, when lows reached 36 degrees. The largest rainfall was in 2006, with 0.92 inches.
Since 2002, maximum temperatures on New Year’s Eve have averaged 78 degrees, and average minimum temperatures have been 57.85 degrees. Drought trends remain, with average precipitation at 0.028 inch. Rainfall was recorded only once during the past twenty New Year’s Eves.
more: Will it rain in Florida on Thanksgiving? National Weather Service, AccuWeather Forecast
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The hottest New Year’s Eve since 2002 was 85 degrees, a degree that has been recorded in each of the past two years. The coldest year came in 2016, with a low of 41 degrees. In 2014, the only year with record rainfall, rainfall averaged 0.56 inches.
New Year’s Day was similar, with temperatures averaging 78.25 degrees, while lows averaging 57.6 degrees. Precipitation averaged 0.057 inch, and some precipitation occurred on six of the 20 days.
The highest New Year’s Day temperature in 20 years was 84 degrees in 2022. The coldest temperature came in 2010, when the minimum temperature was 48 degrees. The largest rainfall was in 2014, with 0.69 inches.
Wicker Perlis is the TCPalm Watchdog reporter for St. Lucie County. You can reach him at email@example.com and 504-331-0516.