What the lack of January cold fronts means for South Florida

A dearth of cold fronts last month meant drier and warmer weather for South Florida with Palm Beach International Airport measuring just one inch of rain.

That’s 2.13 inches below what’s normal for the month, according to the National Weather Service in Miami.

Related: Blame La Nina for South Florida’s  balmy weather 

“The combination of January dryness as well as dryness dating back to last fall has led to abnormally dry conditions for a large part of the peninsula,” wrote Robert Molleda, warning coordination meteorologist for the Miami NWS  in a January report released Thursday.

Molleda said just five cold fronts moved through South Florida in January, three of which came in the final eight days of the month.

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Other areas of Palm Beach County received more rain, including Palm Beach Gardens, which got 1.67 inches, and Juno Beach, which saw 2.08 inches.

But it wasn’t enough to keep the county off the U.S. Drought Monitor’s watch list. Much of the peninsula, including Palm Beach County is considered “abnormally dry”, which is one level away from “moderate drought.” The most recent drought report was released Thursday.

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The South Florida Water Management District shows most of eastern Palm Beach County down 1.19 inches of rain, while the 16-county region measured by the district has a half-inch deficit. That could be a good thing for Lake Okeechobee, which at this time last year was nearing dangerously high levels as water managers struggled to deal with record rainfall.

On Friday, Lake Okeechobee was 13.85 feet above sea level, within the 12. 5 to 15.5 foot that the Army Corps of Engineers prefers.

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Temperatures last month averaged 2 to 4 degrees warmer than normal with 12 daily record warm temperatures recorded.

At Palm Beach International Airport, the average temperature last month was 68.9 degrees, which is 3.2 degrees above the 30-year normal.

VIDEO: See a farewell to El Nino by Post videographer Thomas Cordy and weather reporter Kimberly Miller.

Miami experienced its 13th warmest January on record with an average temperature of 72.6 degrees. That’s a whopping 4.4 degrees above normal. Fort Lauderdale had its 15th warmest January, recording an average temperature of 70.7 degrees.

The three-month forecast calls for much of the same for Florida – above normal temperatures and below average rainfall.

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