Winter 2011-12 Summary

Winter 2011-2012 Summary for Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia

This past winter was marked by much warmer temperatures than recent winters, and it will also go down as one of the top 10 driest as well. The La Nina conditions in the Pacific Ocean contributed to a weaker and farther northward displacement of the jet stream, and this was one of the reasons a dry winter was observed over much of the Southeastern U.S. The positive phases of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and Arctic Oscillation (AO) also kept arctic airmasses well entrenched across Canada, which worked in combination with the northward displacement of the jet stream to only bring brief cold air outbreaks to southeast Georgia and northeast Florida this winter.

This winter climate summary will be based on climate observations from December 2011 through February 2012 which is defined as a meteorological winter. The four climate stations used for this report are: Jacksonville, FL (records since 1871), Gainesville, FL (records since 1890), Alma, GA (records since 1948) and St Simons Island, GA (records since 1948).

The average temperatures for this past winter were about 3 to 4 degrees above normal and were marked by significant stretches of above normal temperatures with several days of highs into the 80s. In fact, all the climate stations reached the middle 80s on February 24th when both Alma and St. Simons Island came within one degree of reaching all-time winter record highs. There were a few brief intrusions of cold air this season, but overall the number of freeze events ended up being below normal. Widepsread hard freeze events occurred on the mornings of January 4th and February 13th with temperature readings into the upper teens and lower 20s at many inland locations.


Climate Station Average Temp Departure Season Rank Number of Freezes Freeze Departure Warmest Date Coldest Date
Jacksonville, FL 57.8F +2.9F 32nd Warmest 9 days -6 days 84 on 2/23 & 2/24 21 on 2/13
Gainesville, FL 59.8F +3.9F 18th Warmest 9 days -5 days 84 on 2/24 20 on 1/4 & 2/13
Alma, GA 55.5F +3.0F 8th Warmest 16 days -5 days 85 on 2/24 18 on 2/13
St Simons Island, GA 57.8F +4.4F 6th Warmest 4 days -6 days 84 on 2/24 26 on 1/4

Precipitation amounts were well below normal across the region as the jet stream remained to the north for most of the winter. This resulted in weaker frontal precipitation events and did not provide much of the way of any severe weather. In fact, only 2 days this winter recorded rainfall amounts of one inch or more at the climate stations; December 12th and February 19th. The below normal precipitation amounts came in line with the forecast of La Nina conditions across the Pacific continuing the moderate to severe drought conditions across northeast Florida and southeast Georgia.

Climate Station Winter Precipitation Departure Season Rank Wettest Date
Jacksonville, FL 3.07" -6.22" 8th Driest 1.50" on 12/12
Gainesville, FL 2.40" -6.59" 4th Driest 0.56" on 1/18
Alma, GA 5.17" -6.18" 7th Driest 1.15" on 2/19
St Simons Island, GA 3.98" -5.35" 5th Driest 1.18" on 2/19

The forecast for the spring months from March through May is for better chances for above normal temperatures and below normal rainfall. This link from the Climate Prediction Center can be viewed for more details.


Jason Hess
Climate Focal Point, NWS Jacksonville

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