Forecasting Change: How much warmer are winter nights getting?

Orlando has 3 fewer nights below freezing since 1970

FILE - In this Monday, May 19, 2014 photo, swans swim in Lake Eola as the sun sets in Orlando, Fla. Ballots haven't even been printed yet, but already a group of landlords and real estate agents in Florida are trying to stop voters from deciding on a measure that would implement rent control for a year in the theme park hub that has been one of the fastest-growing metro areas in the U.S. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File) (John Raoux, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Orlando, FLA. – This week, we had a record-setting day on Wednesday.

In Orlando, we tied the record for the hottest Jan. 25 with a high temperature of 85. And Orlando was not alone. Look at the other records and near records from Wednesday. It was HOT for January!

Record Highs This Week

But now, the chill is back. This week on Forecasting Change, we look at the lack of cold nights in Florida.

Over the past 50 years, the really cold nights have started to go away. Below you will find a graphic that shows how, in Orlando, we have lost almost half of our nights with freezing temperatures. Now keep in mind, I am not complaining. Longtime viewers of News 6, or readers of our PinPoint Weather Insider newsletter, know full well that I don’t mind a little cool down for a change of pace. But I do not like a freeze. And lately, not many of us have had to battle the freezing temps.

Climate Central

We have already had two nights below 32 this cold season. The low Christmas Eve morning was 31, and the low Christmas morning was 30! So chances are, at least statistically, we are done with temps below 32.

And in Florida, we are not alone. The Tampa area has lost more than a few nights of subfreezing temperatures.

Climate Central

And in Fort Myers-Naples area, the warming and loss of nights below 50 is even more eye-catching.

Climate Central

Now as I said earlier, I am no fan of freezing temps. But it is important to remember that the cold nights do go a long way in cutting down on disease-carrying bugs. It can also lead to longer growing seasons for pollen producing plants, and trouble for water levels through evaporation, and the need for water to keep lawns alive in the dry season.

According to our friends at Climate Central, the rate of warming for nighttime lows since 1900 is 1.78 degrees Fahrenheit per century. That is about 25% faster than the rate of the warming of our daytime highs.

It is all a part of a wider pattern of a changing global climate. Part of the “Global Weirdness” will be the loss of our ability to cool off at night.

You can listen to every episode of Florida’s Fourth Estate in the media player below:

About the Author:

Tom Sorrells is News 6's Emmy award winning chief meteorologist. He pinpoints storms across Central Florida to keep residents safe from dangerous weather conditions.