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2010’s Historic Cold Spell in Florida and Southeast, Powerful Storms in California, Monstrous Snows in Arizona Mountain

By Joe D'Aleo
Monday, February 1, 2010

– Worst Freeze since 1989


Temperatures plunged to levels not seen in 20 years over south Florida in the wake of the arctic cold front which blasted through the region on the weekend of January 9-10, 2010. Temperatures remained at or below 50 degrees for more than 48 consecutive hours, finally rising above 50 during the late morning to midday hours on Monday the 11th. Although no records are kept of consecutive number of hours at or below 50, it is likely that this streak is among the longest on record. Snow sleet and even freezing rains occurred in places where northerners come in droves to escape that.


Following is a daily temperature breakdown: 


Saturday January 9th


High temperatures on Saturday were recorded around midnight, with temperatures dropping throughout much of the day under gray, rainy skies and blustery northwest winds. Daytime temperatures were in the upper 30s to mid 40s over all of south Florida with a persistent light rain falling.


A few reports of very light sleet and snow flurries were received from parts of southeast Florida as the precipitation came to an end Saturday evening. However, analysis of temperature profiles around the time of the reports suggest that it is highly unlikely that anything other than light rain fell across most of south Florida. Areas around and primarily west of Lake Okeechobee probably saw a very brief mix of sleet on Saturday afternoon as the air was slightly colder in that region compared to points farther south.

Light sleet and snow flurries continue to mix with rain across Brevard, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Volusia Counties.

Numerous surface observations and weather spotters continue to report rain mixing with light sleet and snow flurries across an area north of a line from Melbourne to Kenansville. Intermittent periods of a rain, sleet, and snow flurries with little to no accumulation are forecasted to continue across this same area through mid-morning.

Temperatures are continuing to fall across Indian River County and a brief period of a rain sleet mix may occur especially across northern portions of the county in Sebastian and Fellsmere.

Though temperatures remain just above freezing in most locations, patchy ice may develop on area roadways, creating hazardous driving conditions. Bridges, overpasses and low spots usually will develop ice first. Slow down and use caution if driving on area roadways this morning.

Orlando International Airportat 8am was reporting 30F and light freezing rain. Earlier reported ice pellets. EPCOT marathon this morning may find runners in sleet and temperatures in the low to mid 30s and wind chills in the mid 20s. See the morning WESH video with meteorologist Tony Mainolfi here. Still image capture below.

During the day, additional reports were received and plotted by the Melbourne NWS office here. Snowflakes fell in the Naples area. Also reports of snow flurries in Miami were received by the NWS, one report logged below. H/T Alexandre Aguiar, METSUL.

A rare scene for Florida below.

The cold afternoon temperatures on Saturday set the stage for a very cold night across all of south Florida.


Sunday January 10th


This was the coldest day in virtually all of south Florida since December 24, 1989.  Low temperatures ranged from the upper 20s in portions of Glades and Hendry counties to between 30-32 degrees over the rest of the area mainly north of a Naples to West Palm Beach line, including the east and south side of Lake Okeechobee. Lows ranged between 33-36 degrees over most of metropolitan Broward and Miami-Dade counties as well as southern Palm Beach County and the Marco Island area along the Gulf coast. Some sections of the eastern metro area, including the beaches, dipped to right around the freezing mark (31-32 degrees). Although these freezing temperatures over the eastern metro areas were recorded at unofficial sites, enough locations reported the temperatures as to make it quite plausible. Unofficial readings of 32 degrees right to the beaches would be the first time these areas have seen freezing temperatures since December 25, 1989.


A record low of 35 degrees was tied in Miami. The previous record was set in 1970.  Highs only reached the mid 40s to right at 50 degrees, setting or tying daily low maximum temperature records at the four primary climate sites in south Florida:


Miami 48 (53 in 1970)


Fort Lauderdale 49 (52 in 1970)


West Palm Beach50 (50 in 1970)

Naples 48 (51 in 1970)



Monday January 11th


Another morning of freezing temperatures was observed across south Florida (Figure 1). A hard freeze (temperatures below 28 for 4 hours) occurred over much of Glades, Hendry and northern interior sections of Collier County as temperatures dropped into the mid 20s over this region. Palmdale and Airglades Airport west of Clewiston recorded lows of 25 degrees, with an unofficial report in Moore Haven as low as 24 degrees. Freezing temperatures (at or below 32 degrees) were observed all the way to the southwest Gulf coast where Naples Regional Airport dropped to 32 degrees and an unofficial report from Marco Island also showed 32 degrees. Freezing temperatures covered virtually all of the interior areas, and for the second day in a row extended well into the metro east coast. Areas mainly near and west of the Turnpike in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties dropped to at or below 32 degrees, with far southwest portions of Miami-Dade as low as the upper 20s as evidenced by Tamiami Airport’s low of26 degrees. Closer to the immediate east coast, lows were in the mid 30s.


Here are daily record lows broken for January 11th:

West Palm Beach 33 (34 in 1927)

Miami 36 (37 in 1927)

Record Consecutive Days at or Below 45 Degrees Broken at West Palm Beach and Naples


In addition to new daily records being set, records for longest number of consecutive days with lows at or below 45 degrees have been set in West Palm Beach and Naples (12 days each). At Miami and Fort Lauderdale, the number of consecutive days with lows below 50 degrees is up to 12 days. The all-time recorded streak of lows below 50 degrees (13 for Miami and 12 for Fort Lauderdale).

Low temperatures on January 11. Areas in dark blue denote temperatures at or below 32 degrees. Areas in magenta denote temperatures in the mid 30s.


A record low temperature set at Gainesville of 17 degrees was set on January 11. breaking the old record of 20 set in 1959. This was the coldest minimum temperature recorded at Gainesville since the temperature fell to 16 degrees on December 24th 1989.


The temperature at Key West airport dropped to 42 degrees on Monday January 11th. This set a new record low temperature for the date. The previous record was 48 degrees set in 1970.This was also the second coldest temperature ever recorded in Key West with weather records dating back to 1873. The all time record low temperature in Key West is 41 degrees which has occurred twice on January 13th 1981 and January 12th 1886.

As of January 12, 2010, the two week cold snap has had a significant impact on the Gulf water temperatures near our coast. There have been reports of dead or dying green sea turtles and manatees, as well as numerous fish kills up and down the Florida Gulf Coast. The Gulf water temperatures at Venice are the lowest since the sensor became perational in May of 1986. The Gulf water temperatures at Clearwater Beach, 55.2 degrees Fahrenheit, are the lowest since 2001. The sensor became operational in July of 1995.

Elsewhere in the southeast…


Mobile, Alabama had the 3rd longest streak of consecutive minimum temperatures of 32 degrees or below. As of January 14, 13 days in a row saw the minimum temperature fell to 32 degrees or below in mobile. The record number of consecutive days at Mobile that the minimum temperature fell to 32 degrees or below is 15 which was set back in February 1940 and the 2nd longest streak is 14 days which was set back in February 1958.

The start of 2010 in southeastern South Carolina and southeastern Georgia has been characterized by a long duration period of abnormally cold temperatures. Looking back at records for extended periods of cold weather, the present stretch of low temperatures at or below 30 degrees at the Charleston airport is the longest streak ever recorded (records go back to 1938). Previous records were set in 2001 and 1940. At the Savannah airport, the present stretch of low temperatures at or below 30 degrees is tied for the longest streak.

Their records extend back to 1874. The prior similar cold durations were in the El Nino winter of 1966.

Coldest stretch of sub freezing high temperatures set in Blacksburg, VA. The period from January 2nd to January 12th saw high temperatures in Blacksburg Virginia stay below 32 degrees. This set the record for consecutive days where high temperatures were below freezing. The previous record was 10 days set from March 2nd to March 11th, 1960.

Widespread snowcover

As of January 9th, 62.7% of the US lower 48 was snowcovered.

Widespread snow of Long Duration

The Kansas City international airport had a snow depth of 5 inches or more...from December 25th to January 17th. This was second longest stretch only falling behind the 31 days in 1960.

Kansas City...period of record: 1888 to present

Snow depths of five inches or more

1)          31         3/22/1960

2)          24         1/17/2010

3)           23        1/22/1979

4)           23        1/31/1930

5)           20        3/15/1912

6)           19        2/11/1979

7)           15        2/03/1977

8)           13        2/17/1905

9)           12        1/01/1984

10)          12        2/24/1978

Des Moines, IA Snowy Winter


Des Moines Continues To Move Up All Time Record Snowfall Lists

The Des Moines Airport Measured 6.4 Inches of New Snow Yesterday...January 25th. This Brings The Total Snowfall Since December 1st Of Last Year To 41.4 Inches...Making This The second snowiest December-January Period On Record At Des Moines. Previously The Second Snowiest December-January Was In 1897-1898 When 37.2Inches Of Snow Fell. The Snowiest Remains 1885-1886 When 50.2 inches of Snow Fell.

The Des Moines Airport Also Reported A Snow Depth of 9 Inches On The Ground Yesterday...January 25th. This Was The 48th Consecutive Day On Which The Snow Depth Has Been At Least 5 Inches...And It Is Sure To Remain That High At Least Through This Week After Yesterdays Snowfall And With Cold Temperatures Expected. This Is Currently The Third Longest Streak On Record Of Consecutive Days With At Least 5 Inches Of Snow On The Ground At Des Moines...Surpassing The Previous Third Place Holder Which Was 47 Days From February 10th Through March 27th 1960. The Record Holder Is 54 Days From December 12th 1961 Through February 3rd 1962...And That Streak Is In Serious Jeopardy This Winter.

Preliminary Record Low Pressure Readings In Los Angeles, Fresno And  Bakersfield...
At 121 PM PST Thursday January 22nd...the barometric pressure at Los Angeles International Airport fell to 29.07 Inches of mercury...or 980.0 mb. This breaks the previous record lowest barometric pressure reading of 29.25 inches...Or 990.6 mb...set on January 17th 1988.

At 235 pm PST...the barometric pressure at Fresno-Yosemite International airport fell to 28.94 inches of mercury...or 980.0 mb. This breaks the previous record lowest barometric pressure reading of 29.10 inches...or 985.4 mb...set on January 27th 1916.
 At 1249 pm PST..the barometric pressure at Meadows Field in Bakersfield also fell to 28.94 inches of mercury...or 980.0 mb. This breaks the previous record lowest barometric pressure reading of  29.24 inches...or 990.0 mb...set on February 3rd 1998.

Third Greatest Snowstorm Ever in Flagstaff, AZ

Extremely large snow totals are being observed from the massive storm which has impacted northern Arizona since Monday. The last part of the storm has been the most intense...and has brought record setting amounts of snow to the area since Wednesday evening.

Top Flagstaff snowstorms

Dec.13-20, 1967 -- 84.6"

Dec. 29-31, 1915 -- 54.0"

Jan. 18-23, 2010 -- 53.8"

Jan. 9-17, 1949 -- 48.4"

Feb. 1-4, 1901 -- 47.4"

Snow totals from the entire event since Monday evening are among the top 5 greatest northern Arizona snow storms of all time. Snowfall totals (Monday through Friday) range from 40 to well over 60 inches at elevations above 7000 feet along the Mogollon Rim and White Mountains. This storm in Flagstaff...Monday through Friday...currently ranks as the 3rd greatest snow storm of all time. It also ranks as the 3rd wettest.

Final updated totals for the storm:







BELLEMONT             52.5 INCHES (5AM MST SAT)

MUNDS PARK            50.0 INCHES (9AM MST SAT)


MCNARY 2N             43 INCHES (7AM MST SAT)


WILLIAMS              39 TO 43 INCHES (1030AM MST FRI)

HEBER                 26 TO 29 INCHES (7AM MST SAT)

CONCHO                7.5 TO 8.5 INCHES (5AM MST SAT)

This week's monster set of back-to-back-to-back snowstorms will go down in history.

But even with nearly 54 inches having fallen since Monday, it will still come up 30 inches short of "Storm of the Century" back in December 1967.

For eight days, Flagstaff endured nearly continuous snow that wound up totaling 84.6 inches, a record that's likely to stand for quite some time.