Snow bird migration to north

As we are all well aware, this is the time of year when the winter snowbirds make their annual migration back up to the north.
. . .

I like to keep an eye on temperatures. Its a vital part of the water cycle, and I’ve always contended that south Florida’s climate is its cool-aid.

What I mean by that is that its a tough climate to leave behind. Non-natives speak nostalgically of “missing the seasons” of up north and other accoutrements of the snow-bound and crisp-coldness of the continental winters. But don’t be fooled: that sort of talk is more blustery than a New England Nor’Easter.

South Florida’s climate, summer and all, casts its trance.

Once you’ve drunken heartily of its climaticological cool-aid, the land south of the Lake is difficult to leave behind.

Atleast permanently.

Snow birds come and snow birds go: its perhaps the most reknowned seasonal cycle of peninsular Florida.

. . .

We got hit with a ridiculously warm winter this year.

Other than the bone chilling polar express that raced through in early January, (and even enveloped Key West with a record-setting cold air) – we had a rather hot summer too, as judged from the night-time temperatures.

The calendar graph below shows this winter’s night-time lows recorded at Naples Airport relative to winters of the past, going all the way back to 1940.

Our deepest winter freeze in recent memory. That would be January 1981. More recently, January 2003 was also cold. There weren’t many deep cold nights, but it was consistently a cold month.

That’s a stark contrast to this year’s mild winter. And that’s two in a row. Last winter was also mild.

We can probably blame this year’s warm winter on La Nina.

But what was to blame for the hot summer?

Night-time lows in Naples were Miami-esque, consistently hanging around in the high 70s and low 80s.

Anything above 80 degrees is what we refer to in the industry as a “Miami Night.”

(The long-term average for summer night-time lows in Naples (as recorded at the airport) is in the low 70s.)

A prolonged period of warmer nights also persisted in the 1940s. That is shown pretty vividly on the calendar graph below. It shows summer night-time lows recorded at Naples Airport from 1940 to present. The red dots indicate night-time lows didn’t drop below 77 degrees F, and the black dots indicate nights didn’t drop below 80 degrees — the so-called Miami Nights.

. . .

Was it the general lack of afternoon summer showers? Or was it the result of a decadal cycle?

We may have to chalk that one up to vicissitudes in the oceanic currents.

But I’m not a climatologist, or a meteorologist for that matter. That’s the thing about the water cycle: you have to dare to dabble in many arenas to decipher its full riddle.

Other good news about the snow bird migration to the north: traffic congestion should lighten.

But with gas at $3.40 a gallon that’s not much of a consolation.

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