Discover Florida’s Coldest January on Record

Written by Colby Maxwell
Published: January 6, 2023
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Florida is a beautiful and diverse state, but it isn’t known for its cold temperatures. In fact, it’s known for the opposite! Florida is a sunny vacation spot for many, but despite its southern location, it can still get cold during certain times of the year. Even still, these “cold snaps” aren’t usually comparable to the rest of the country, but they are cold for the region and can be hard on wildlife. Today, we are going to take a look at Florida’s statewide averages and determine the coldest January on record! Let’s get started.

The Coldest January on Record

Taylor Lake
The coldest January on record in Florida was in 1940.

©Norm Lane/

Using data provided by the National Climatic Data Center and published on the Climate Center for Florida State University’s website, we can look through the average monthly temperatures by year, reaching all the way back to 1895.

Looking at that data, the coldest January on record was in 1940 when the average temperature for the month was recorded at 49.1 degrees Fahrenheit.

Most of the data showed a monthly average temperature between 50 and 60 degrees, showing that, for some reason, that particular January in 1940 was especially cold. It’s important to remember, however, that the average temperature for the state of Florida may not be representative of certain cities. Generally speaking, Pensacola and Niceville are recognized as the coldest cities in Florida, so their localized average temperatures for the month of January could be even lower!

The Coldest Month in Florida

Although it isn’t always the case, the coldest month in Florida is also January. This can fluctuate a bit, but most averages trend towards the middle of January into the middle of February as being the coldest part of the year.

Still, that being said, Florida’s coldest month is still quite a bit warmer than many other states’ warmer ones. When taking the state averages, the split nature of Florida’s climate is an important element that needs to be considered.

The Split Weather in Florida

Florida is a state with a split climate, with the northern half experiencing a warm temperate climate and the southern half experiencing a tropical climate. This means that while most of the state enjoys warm weather and plenty of sunshine year-round, the further south you go, the more tropical it gets.

There are several factors that influence Florida’s climate, including latitude, the presence of numerous inland lakes, and the proximity to the currents of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. These factors combine to create a unique climate in the state, with the northern half experiencing a somewhat warm temperate climate and the southern half experiencing a tropical climate. In fact, southern Florida is one of the warmest places on the United States mainland during the winter months.

Wildlife in Florida

Florida Panther walks through high grass.
The Florida panther is native to Florida.

©jo Crebbin/

The unique climate in Florida allows a diverse array of wildlife to thrive in an ecosystem that can’t exist anywhere else in the United States. Let’s look at a few plants and animals that can’t survive anywhere else in the country besides the southern and central regions of Florida.

One example of a plant species that thrive in Florida is the orange tree, which is able to tolerate the state’s warm and sunny climate. This tree produces the well-known fruit (the orange) and is a staple crop that can be seen while driving along the interior of the state. Oranges can’t survive cold temperatures very well and need the tropical climate of Florida to thrive.

The American crocodile is another species that is able to survive in Florida due to the tropical climate. These reptiles are native to the state and can be found in the southern part of Florida, particularly in the Everglades. They are well-adapted to the warm and wet conditions of their habitat and only live in the most southern portions of Florida where the temperatures don’t get cold. The American alligator is much more cold-tolerant, allowing them to live as far north as North Carolina.

Other animals native to Florida and well-suited to the tropical climate include the Florida panther, a critically endangered subspecies of puma, and the manatee, a large marine mammal found in the state’s waterways. Florida is also home to a number of exotic plant species, such as the Royal Palm, a tall tree with long, frond-like leaves, and the tropical hibiscus, a colorful and showy flowering plant.

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About the Author

Colby is a freelance writer from Charlotte, North Carolina. When he isn't distracted by his backyard birdfeeder, you can find him camping, exploring, and telling everyone around him about what he's recently learned. There's a whole world to learn about and Colby is content to spend his life learning as much as he can about it!

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