With some chilly air expected this year for Christmas, I thought it would be interesting to look back at past years to see how normal it is to get ‘colder’ for Christmas Day.
Not surprisingly, I found that most years are mild or warm for Christmas Day here in the Tampa Bay region. Considering the climatological average high for this time of year is 71, that’s not a shock.
Over the years I’ve been asked by numerous people if it will be cold for Christmas. Most people say they want it cold because it puts them in the Christmas spirit, or that it reminds them of fond memories if they grew up in a northern climate.
In looking at the data you’ll find that it’s very common for our area to have highs in the 60s, 70s, or 80s on Christmas Day, but a lot rarer to have highs only in the 50s. It happens, but those instances are in the minority (for obvious reasons with our southern latitude).
What’s interesting is that you can go back the past 100 years and find a rhythm (or pattern) to the temperatures with some years and decades being warmer, while others are cooler. It tends to ebb and flow.
It’s not too surprising considering we know that large scale global patterns can have an influence on our regional weather (ie. El Niño, La Niña).
In 1997, there was a strong El Niño, which we know can result in wetter, stormier winters for us. Sure enough, that winter was very stormy and we had the wettest December on record.
There are Arctic Oscillations that play a big role in winter weather, especially across the Eastern U.S. In the winters of 2009 and 2010, we had the coldest December on records with numerous chilly days. But yet, that pattern flipped a few years later and we had some of the warmest Decembers on record in 2015 and 2016.
The warmest Christmas Day temperature is 86 degrees, which we’ve hit multiple times. The coldest is 20 degrees, in 1983. That same day we only had a high of 38 here in Tampa, which is VERY cold by our standards.
Here’s what our weather has been on Christmas Day since Bay News 9 started in 1997…
2019: Mostly sunny and warm. High: 81, Low: 63
2018: Sunny and beautiful. High: 74, Low: 53
2017: Weak front brought early AM showers. High: 75, Low: 58
2016: Mostly sunny and warm. Tied record high. High: 86, Low: 67
2015: Thick morning fog, warm and muggy. Tied record high. High: 86, Low: 70
2014: Cloudy morning, cool and partly sunny afternoon. High: 66, Low: 55
2013: Chilly start, comfortable afternoon. High: 76, Low: 49
2012: Mostly cloudy but comfortable. High: 74, Low: 57
2011: Mostly sunny and warm. High: 82, Low: 64
2010: Nice most of the day with night rain showers moving in with a front. High: 71, Low: 45
2009: AM light showers, cloudy all day. High: 73, Low: 66
2008: Mostly cloudy with light scattered showers. Warm, muggy. High: 82, Low: 70
2007: Sunny and nice. High: 76, Low: 58
2006: Severe squall line with an EF-2 tornado in Pasco County. High: 79, Low: 69
2005: Front passed with rain and gusty winds of 50 mph. High: 70, Low: 57
2004: Cloudy and rainy. High: 60, Low: 48
2003: Sunny and cool. High: 66, Low: 47
2002: Rain ends early, then cloudy and windy. High: 70, Low: 51
2001: Cloudy and chilly with light rain. High: 58, Low: 51
2000: Breezy, mostly sunny. High: 71, Low: 49
1999: Sunny, but chilly. High: 58, Low: 43
1998: Sunny and warm. High: 79, Low: 64
1997: Wet and stormy with record rain of 1.53″. High 73, Low 69