Has It Ever Snowed in Florida?

Florida's warm climate means the state receives little or no snow.
Florida's warm climate means the state receives little or no snow.

It rarely snows in Florida, particularly in the central and southern parts of the state. However, northern parts of the state and the Jacksonville area are the exceptions, and have recorded measurable snow amounts in the past. Apart from these two exceptions, the majority of Florida has yet to receive measurable amounts of snow. In fact, the few times it has snowed in parts of Florida are considered historic. Light flurries have been reported in the air only occasionally during the past century. The Florida Keys and Key West have never experienced snow since human settlement of the region. In fact, the monthly average of snowfall in most parts of Florida is recorded as zero. Florida usually has the mildest winters in the United States.

Why Is Snowing Rare in Florida?

The temperatures in Florida are not cold enough to support snowfall. Snowfall is nearly impossible in Florida given the state's low latitude and subtropical climate. The northern part of Florida has a humid subtropical climate, while South Florida has a tropical climate. These types of climate do not support frequent snowfall. Frost occurs in Florida more frequently than snow, because frost requires a temperature of 0°C or less, an elevation of about 7 feet, a clear sky, and a minimum humidity of 65%. However, in order for snowfall to occur in Florida, the polar jet stream has to move towards the south and into the Gulf of Mexico through Texas, move with a cold front across Southern Florida, and then curve towards the Northeast before combining with cooling air in the frontal clouds. Additionally, the warm tropical easterly wind that blows across Central and Southern Florida not only keep temperatures warm, but also melt any small amounts of snow very quickly. Little snow falls in the North Panhandle because of its location. Apart from Florida, other parts of the United States with negligent amounts of snowfall include Southern Texas and parts of California's southern coast.

When Did It Snow in Florida?

The few times it has snowed in Florida were considered historic. Most metrological information about snowfall in Florida prior to 1900 was recorded by the National Weather Service's meteorological station located in Jacksonville. The earliest known instance of snow in Florida was recorded in 1774 in Jacksonville, which was referred to as ‘extraordinary white rain’ by Floridians since they were not accustomed to snowfall. On January 19, 1977, it snowed heavily in Southern Florida, an event which received considerable disbelief from Floridians and the rest of the United States. This is the only incidence of significant snow in Florida. However the snow did not last long, and quickly melted away. On December 23, 1989, snowfall occurred in northeast Florida, and was referred to as the state's first White Christmas. Throughout the 20th century, there were twenty-one reported events of snowfall in Florida. In the 21st century, there have been 16 snowfalls, most of which were reported in Jacksonville.


More in Environment