How Did This Winter Compare to Florida’s Warmest Ever?

Written by Crystal
Updated: March 12, 2023
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Florida’s warmest winter was only a few years ago. Parts of the state spent nearly the entire three-month season with above-average temperatures. Records going back over 100 years show that many cities were hotter than ever before. During the warmest winter, Miami saw temperatures jump past 80° F over 70 times. And the Miami International Airport somehow got even hotter.

Follow along as we look into Florida’s warmest winter ever and how it compares to the last winter. Did things heat up, cool down, or stay somewhere in the middle? Let’s find out.

When Was Florida’s Warmest Winter?

Florida had its warmest winter ever in 2016-2017.


Florida’s warmest winter was the meteorological winter of 2016 through 2017. There are a lot of weather stations in Florida that have records going back at least 100 years. This season qualifies as one of the top five warmest winners for many parts of the state.

Many records show that 2016-2017 was the warmest winter season for Pensacola, Tampa, and Ocala, Florida. And, it was Tallahassee’s second warmest winter in a 115 years record. It was also Naples, Florida’s second warmest on record.

The first warmest winter on record for Naples, Florida, occurred during the meteorological winter of 1948 to 1949, with a record average temperature of 71.5° F. Naples, Florida, usually reaches temperatures of 66° F during winter, it was a 5.5° F jump toward the warm side.

The 2016-2017 winter was also the second warmest winter for Miami and the third warmest winter for Key West. The temperature soared past 80° F around 70 times during the “coldest” part of the year.

The 2016-2017 winter was the third warmest winter for Fort Myers, Florida, and 5th toastiest season for West Palm Beach. The muggy winter was the sixth warmest for Jacksonville, Florida, and that’s going back 146 years! And the 7th warmest part of the state was Dallas.

Average Temperatures for the Winter Season

Rain drops falling from a black umbrella concept for bad weather, winter or protection
Florida has mild winters but is overall unpredictable in its day-to-day weather.

©Brian A Jackson/

Florida usually has mild winters. There are comfortable, warm days with brisk temperatures. While other days are chilly from morning to sunset and have freezing-cold winds. The state usually experiences at least four rainy days during the winter season. But that number can vary greatly from year to year. June is Florida’s wettest month. But sometimes the winter season gets really wet too. It all depends on how the unpredictable weather behaves.

Florida weather is known for changing its mind frequently. One minute it’s bright and sunny, and the next, it’s pouring rain. Sometimes a winter day feels chilly and cold; others are hot and sweaty, like summer.

Despite the unpredictability, Florida has one of the most gentle winters in the continental United States. In Key West, 61° F is a typical “low” temperature, and 74° F is the average high temperature. Tallahassee enjoys an average daytime low of 41° F and a high of 62 ° F. In Miami, temperatures are normally 77° F all winter.

January is the coldest month of the winter season in Florida. But even so, the average low in Orlando is still 49° F throughout January.

Comparing the Warmest Winter to the Last Winter

You’ll notice many similarities comparing Florida’s warmest winter with its last winter. The 2020 to 2023 meteorological winter temperatures were slightly higher than usual. Miami was one of the areas impacted the hardest by the warm season.

Miami had higher-than-normal temperatures for over 80% of the winter days. It was 80° F for 72 days out of the entire winter season for Miami. At the Miami International Airport, things were even hotter. At the airport, around 87% of the winter days had temperatures that were above average.

How does it stay so warm in Florida during the winter? The state is a peninsula, which helps influence the warm winter season. The surrounding seawater stores heat and the coastal cities benefit the most. Areas like Miami have warmer temperatures in Central Florida because they’re closer to the warm sea waters.

Chances of Snow

car with snow in Florida
Florida rarely sees snow.


Snow is rare in Florida, especially as you move toward the state’s southern tip. It was almost half a century ago that southern Florida saw snow. Meteorologists say it could happen again, but it’d take a major arctic blast. Even then, it’s not likely the snow would stick. The humidity and high temperatures just aren’t snow friendly.

The largest Florida snowfall was in March 1954. A three-day snowstorm left 4 inches. Areas like Santa Rosa county experienced the fastest accumulation. It only took 24 hours for almost half a foot of snow to cover the county.

Heavy snow might be rare in Florida, but trace dusting or flurries are always possible. The state’s experienced 80 snow dusting in the last 136 years. Trace flurries from a blizzard crossed northern Florida in January 2022.

Florida’s Wildlife During the Winter Season

Manatee, Crystal River, Florida, USA
Manatees enjoy Florida’s warm winters.

©Thierry Eidenweil/

There are a lot of species that enjoy Florida’s warm winters. A few of these animals include manatees, North Atlantic right whales, and sandhill cranes.

Manatees are one of Florida’s famous winter creatures. They live in the state year-round but are easier to spot during the cold season. Camp somewhere like Blue Springs, Florida, to immerse yourself in manatee land. You’ll avoid the scorching summer heat and have ample wildlife viewing opportunities.

How do the manatees get to the springs? They travel through rivers, canals, and other waterways. They start their journey to the springs as the temperatures begin to drop. The heat from the springs keeps the majestic sea cows from freezing. Since spring water stays 72° F all year, it is the perfect winter habitat.

Another Florida favorite is the North Atlantic whales. North Atlantic whales return to Florida and Georgia coastlines during the winter season. They come to the warm waters to give birth to their young. These impressive animals are among the world’s most endangered large whale species. There are less than 350 remaining in the world. Thankfully, strong conservation efforts and educational awareness programs are helping these creatures continue to survive.

Finally, another famous winter wildlife sighting in Florida is the sandhill crane. These birds are also in the state year-round but become more prominent during winter. A lot of sandhill cranes migrate to Florida once the fall season passes.

These large, lanky birds will flock together in prairies and marshes. If you don’t see them, listen for their prehistoric cry. Hearing a sandhill crane cry out as the sun sets over a warm winter’s day is a common Florida experience.

Final Thoughts on Warm Winters in Florida

Dog Park Series - Jacksonville
Jacksonville, Florida has some of the oldest weather records in Florida.

©ESB Professional/

Florida has chilly days, but overall, the state deflects the cold. The winter season is a three-month easy period that gives the state all the bragging rights it could want. There are plenty of days you can wear t-shirts and shorts and not even feel a chill. But there are other days when things are downright frigid.

Florida’s warmest winter had a few things in common with the states last winter. Both cold seasons had more above-average temperatures than below. The muggy weather hit areas like Miami the hardest. The southern areas spent most of the winter season with summer temperatures. In Miami, the temperature exceeded 80 ° F around 70 times over 3 months winter season.

Thanks to the extensive records of weather stations across the state, we can appreciate how warm Florida gets. Many of these stations kept diligent records dating back 100 years or more. Jacksonville, Florida, weather records go back 146 years! And the 146-year record shows that the 2016 to 2017 winter was still the warmest.

Overall, Florida winters are one of the mildest and most enjoyable winters you could ask for. And they also bring with them some excellent wildlife viewing opportunities. You can see the manatees migrating to the springs to stay warm, spot mother whales coming to the coastlines to give birth to their young, and hear sandhill cranes crying out from the prairies. Florida is a warm winter wonderland.

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About the Author

Crystal is always looking to learn more, and share her finds with you along the way. It's amazing how you can spend your entire life living with plants and animals, but still know so little about them! Let's explore our world together as Crystal covers topics about creatures, places, and experiences.

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