Warm winter days
But save the sweater for summer!

It’s easy to confuse winter …

For summer in south Florida.

Chart showing winter warmth in Naples FLA, 1970 – present

The reason?

Around half the winter rises up to or above 80° F. That qualifies as summer-like weather if you’re from Up North.

This winter only about 40 percent of the days rose above 80° F, markedly down from the previous five winters. But look at the three-year run of cool winters from 2008 to 2010 when only a quarter of the winter days in Naples broke the 80 degree plane. Or the scorching hot winters of the early 70s when the winter mercury mark topped 80 three times as much.

My point?

In south Florida we often mistaken winter for summer, but rarely do we get it confused the other way around. (That doesn’t mean you don’t need a sweater in the summer when the air conditioning is too low!)

70 degree rule

People winter in Florida, as in the verb.

We call them snow birds.

Naples enjoys 3 weeks of winter to 20 weeks of summer

To them, without a doubt …

Winter the noun does not exist in south Florida.

But for us “year rounders” the thermometer couldn’t be more clear. We go by the 70 degree rule. What is the 70 degree rule? Any day that doesn’t rise above 70° F is winter and any night that doesn’t drop below 70° F is summer. That gives us on average 18 days of winter and 130 days of summer. As for the rest of the days, us “year rounders” call those spring and fall; or in the parlance of the northerners, “– that’s ridiculous, it’s all summer!”

“Chilly” Gainesville FLA?

Usually when it comes to Florida rivalries

It’s Gainesville (UF) versus Tallahassee (FSU).

Animated chart showing the difference in temperature between Gainesville and Naples, Florida
Comparison of high and low air temperatures for Naples and “chilly” Gainesville, Florida

But when you look at the map,

Gainesville is surprisingly close to the panhandle (i.e. the continent).

A better rivalry in terms of air temperature is to compare Gainesville to further down the south Florida peninsula (i.e. Sunny Naples) as shown above.

Winter in Florida?

By most standards,

Florida doesn’t have a winter.

Comparison of high (top) and low (bottom) air temperatures along the east coast

But starting with Thanksgiving,

The past two months have been reliably cooler.

So yes, we have a winter, just not the polar plunge that New England is dropping into now (i.e. see red line on the chart above).

Naples, North Dakota

You know it’s cold in Naples Florida …

When daytime highs don’t rise above 70° F.

Winter comparison between Naples, FL and Fargo, North Dakota

Naples gets about 18 of those “frigid cold” days every winter.

Compare that to Fargo, North Dakota where they get +240 such days.

I‘m not here to say which one is colder.

Let’s just agree that each gets winter in its own peculiar way.

Real winter

Real winter is defined as …

Fargo, North Dakota.

This calendar chart shows a history of cold, very cold, super cold and “Welcome To Fargo” cold days for the Red River watershed in North Dakota


I think the calendar chart above says it all.

Or if you need a more detailed breakdown:

50% of year: daily lows drop below 32° F

25% of year: daily highs stay below 32° F

1 out of 6 days: daily lows drop below 0° F

11 days of year: do not rise above 0° F

In summary, that’s cold!

Winter in Naples?

There’s an old geology saying:

“Here today, gone tomorrow.”

Any day that doesn’t rise above 70° F is considered a winter day in Naples, Florida. On average, we get about 18 of those per year. We’re at seven so far this winter. One more puts us ahead of last year’s full tally.

The same can be said for winter in south Florida:

Cold blasts of air never last for more than a day or two before more warm (or mild) air moves in.

Not to mention our metric for measuring winter is very low.

A day that doesn’t rise above 70° F isn’t considered cold up north on the continent.

On average, Naples Florida gets about 18 of those per year.

How to: Measure winter in Florida

The old geology saying:

“Here today, gone tomorrow” also applies to Florida winter.

History of annual winter days
in Naples Florida, 1970 to present

Our winter is not measured in months or even weeks,

But rather days, and specifically days that do not rise above 70° F.

On average, we get about 18 of those per winter.

So far this year we’ve had four.

swamp dictionary

Winter, the verb
Not to be confused with the noun

People winter in Florida, as in the verb.

As for the noun, winter in Florida probably doesn’t exist.

Temperature history for Naples Florida
Calendar chart showing days
when the high temperature did not exceed
70, 60 and 50 degrees.

At least as a season:

Winter in Florida is measured in a handful of days scattered here and there across a four to five month span from November to March.

That is, assuming you count a day in that doesn’t break above 70° F as winter-worthy.

If you’re from Up North, you probably don’t.

But if you lived through a Florida summer, you definitely do!