Florida Keys News
Sunday, January 12, 2014
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Dec. warm and humid , 5th overall
Average temp.was 75.7 degrees

Did it feel like you wiped a bit more sweat from your brow in December than you're used to? If so, your perception -- and perspiration -- were right on.

Last month was the fifth warmest December in the Keys since recordkeeping began in Key West in 1872, and the warmest since 1978.

"We were less than a degree from setting the all-time record," National Weather Service meteorologist Bill South said.

Key West's average temperature in December was 75.7 degrees, more than four degrees higher than normal.

In Marathon, there were only two nights when the temperature fell below the average low of 67 degrees, and those came way back on Dec. 2 and 3. In fact, the coldest night of December came on the third, when the mercury "plummeted" all the way into light-jacket territory at 64 degrees.

South said unusual wind patterns for this time of year drove the unseasonably warm and humid conditions.

"We've had a lot of days where we've had winds bearing from the east-southeast and from the south, and that tends to push the higher moisture air masses out of the Caribbean and up toward the Keys," he said.

Cold fronts bringing drier air from the north were scarce, weak and short lasting in December.

The balmy temperatures didn't go unnoticed by man or beast.

"We'd love to see it a bit cooler," Brett Ekblom, owner of the Islamorada-based Native Construction, said last week. "It's like we're still in our summer the way we have to take breaks and endure the heat. Normally, we'd expect it'd be easier to get things done in the winter time."

Meanwhile, some local canals that are typically crowded with manatees in the winter never saw a December influx. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman Kevin Baxter said the agency has no data on this year's manatee migration, but warm weather could stall their move to the south.

"Typically, what needs to happen is for it to be cool for a while, around a week, so it will affect the water temperature and get them to move," Baxter said.

Of course, the warmth also has its benefits. At the Ron Levy Aquatic Center in Founders Park, for example, the village of Islamorada didn't have to spend money in December heating the water for the 16 swim teams that arrived for training, Parks Director John Sutter said.

And German tourists Henrike and Frauke Hoppe, who arrived in the region on Dec. 30, had no complaints about the extra-warm conditions they encountered at the start of their vacation.

"Perfect," Frauke said.

rsilk@keysnews.com

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