The first seven days of 2018 were the coldest start to a year on record in Gainesville. According to the Southeast Regional Climate Center, temperatures averaged 15 degrees below average January 1-7, surpassing the frigid first week of 2010 when they were about 14 degrees below the norm. In that year, it kept getting colder the following week before a major warmup ensued. However, this year a major warm up is on the way for the second week of January, arriving just in time for the start of the spring semester at UF.
Daytime temperatures didn’t warm above 50 degrees for five days in a row, and the National Weather Service says this has only happened one other time at the Gainesville Regional Airport (1898).
Overnight lows were at or below freezing for six consecutive nights, reaching their lowest of 24 degrees on the morning of the 4th. The coldest daytime high was 41 on Wednesday, January 3, when a rare winter storm brought rain, freezing rain and even a few snowflakes to portions of north Florida. No daily temperature records were broken in Gainesville during this cold stretch, but its duration was certainly notable.
The recent cold stretch will end Monday, as temperatures warm to near 70 for the first time since December 26. The next five days are forecast to be roughly 10 degrees above average, with afternoon highs even hitting the middle 70s by midweek. Overnight lows will not only be well above freezing, they too will be above the climatological norm by 15 degrees when they fall only into the 50s starting Monday night.
The warmup is occurring as the arctic high pressure system that’s had a stronghold on the Eastern U.S. finally shifts to the east. As a result, a more easterly wind off the Atlantic will replace the cold, north wind that has been blowing for days. At the same time, an area of low pressure will move in from the west, sending a warm front and south winds by week’s end.
Rain chances are also back in the forecast Tuesday as the low pressure system approaches, but this storm system is not tied to any cold air behind it.
Meteorologist Jeff Huffman contributed to this story.