TAMPA — The weather cycle that’s come to define January is about to repeat itself: Shorts today, jacket tomorrow.
The 20-degree drop in expected highs from Tuesday’s mid-70s to Wednesday’s mid-50s has been typical this month as the cold fronts that normally blow in every week or so have been coming in every few days instead.
The result has been a cooler January. The average temperature for the month has been 57.2 degrees, which is 3.3 degrees cooler than normal, said Michael Lewis, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Ruskin.
But while the Tampa area has dropped into the 30s several times this month and has had plenty of days where the high didn’t get out of the 50s, there hasn’t been an official freeze yet. The first winter freeze on average arrives on Jan. 3, Lewis said, but the coldest temperature recorded this month at Tampa International Airport was 33 degrees on Jan. 7.
The chance to hit the 32 degree mark and below is still a possibility this winter, Lewis said.
“It’s not to say we won’t drop below freezing sometime,” Lewis said.
Many of the cooler days have been accompanied by rain as cold fronts move into the area. January has seen 1.67 inches at Tampa International Airport, a hair shy of average for the month.
“We can end up at the end of the month with more than average,” Lewis said. “We have a cold front approaching, so it’s possible.”
This week, the cooler days will be Wednesday and Thursday, but the warm weather will be back quickly. By the weekend - and Sunday’s Super Bowl - high temperatures are predicted to reach almost 80 degrees.
Bad weather often helps some indoor businesses like movie theaters, but the cold snaps have been too short to have much effect, said Wayne Valenti, owner of Tampa Pitcher Show on North Dale Mabry Highway.
“However long the cold is, they stay in and then they come back out,” Valenti said. “Whenever we have bad weather, we tend to get busier.”
Lewis predicts the rest of the winter in the Tampa area will have “above normal temperatures and slightly dryer conditions.”