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February 2012 Newsletter   

State Climatologist Attends National Drought Forum
Climate Summary
State Climatologist Attends National Drought Forum
State Climatologist Attends National Drought Forum
State Climatologist Attends National Drought Forum
State Climatologist Attends National Drought Forum
State Climatologist Attends National Drought Forum
Upcoming Events
Example Data Request

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Dear Florida Climate Center Friends,
We'd like to present you with the February 2012 edition of our newsletter. In this newsletter, you'll find our monthly climate summary, a list of special events that our staff attended, an example of a data request made to the office, and more. If you have any questions, please email us at [email protected].



The Staff of the Florida Climate Center

Zierden PhotoO'Brien PhotoGriffin PhotoLeftwich Photo
David Zierden
State Climatologist
James O'Brien
Professor Emeritus
Melissa Griffin
Asst. State Climatologist
Preston Leftwich
Research Assistant

Groundhog Day 2012

On February 2, Punxsutawney Phil - the world's most famous weather forecasting groundhog - made his prediction for the upcoming spring. Would we see an early spring or would we be subjected to six more weeks of winter?

Well, Phil saw his shadow, despite the cloudy skies, and forecasted that winter will continue. Since 1886, the groundhog has only predicted an early spring 16 times. Most Florida residents experienced above normal temperatures during January, so the prediction of more winter was a bit of a surprise, especially since La Niņa is in control of our weather patterns and we are forecasted to have above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation through May.

If you are interested in predictions of temperature and precipitation over the next two weeks or even out to three months, NOAA's Climate Prediction Center has a variety of forecast maps.

January Climate Summary for Florida

The Florida Climate Center's January 2012 Florida Climate Summary is now available.  The summary provides an analysis of temperature and precipitation trends across the state, along with data on hazardous weather, drought, the impacts of the weather and any records tied or broken for the month. During January, average temperatures were mainly above normal while rainfall totals were below normal statewide. Past summaries are archived here.


January average temperatures and departures from normal (° F) for select cities.
Temperature Table 
January precipitation totals and departures from normal (inches) for select cities.
Precipitation Table 
A graphical depiction of the monthly rainfall departure from normal (inches) for January (courtesy of NOAA, NWS).
Rainfall graphic 

State Climatologist Addresses the Beltwide Cotton Conferences

State Climatologist David Zierden was the opening speaker for the general assembly of the Beltwide Cotton Conferences on January. The conferences were held in Orlando, FL, sponsored by the National Cotton Council, and attended by thousands of growers, researchers, and cotton production and marketing industries. The state climatologist presented information on the El Niņo/La Niņa cycle, what the current La Niņa means to the climate and weather patterns in the cotton belt, and the outlook for this year's planting and growing seasons. Other experts presented on yields from last year's crops, insect and weed control, and current and future cotton markets.

State Climatologist Gives Talk for Georgia/Florida Soybean Association

State Climatologist David Zierden was a featured speaker at the 2012 Soybean/Small Grain Expo, hosted by the Georgia/Florida Soybean Association on January 26 in Perry, GA. Mr. Zierden provided background information on the El Niņo/La Niņa cycle and further explained how the changes in the Pacific Ocean impact the temperature and rainfall patterns in the Southeast U.S. and how this can affect different crops and their yields. He showed how the current La Niņa is favorable for irrigated corn but has mixed implications for soybeans and other small grains. He also illustrated how these climate patterns can be taken advantage of by changing planting dates and other management options.

Asst. State Climatologist Attends 4-H Youth Development Institute

Assistant State Climatologist Melissa Griffin attended the 4-H Youth Development Institute in Ocala, FL, on January 10-11. During a 4-hour session on weather and climate, Ms. Griffin worked with Ms. Heather Kent, the Northwest Regional Specialist 4-H Agent, to gather feedback and highlight activities that will be created for a proposed weather and climate toolkit. The toolkit is geared for 4-H under the USDA/NIFA Climate Education through Extension grant, which is a joint effort of 5 different universities in the Southeast.

Asst. State Climatologist Attends Farmer Appreciation Breakfast

Assistant State Climatologist Melissa Griffin attended the 13th Annual Farmer Appreciation Breakfast in Donalsonville, GA, on January 26. While there, she interacted with commodity growers from in and around Seminole County, GA, and answered questions about the abnormally warm weather. After breakfast, Ms. Griffin gave a 15-minute presentation on La Niņa and its impacts on temperature and precipitation in the Southeast and also highlighted climate risk tools and other features of the AgroClimate.org website.

In The News

La Niņa expected to affect Cotton Belt climate in 2012

Southwest Farm Press

David Zierden, Florida State Climatologist, says La Niņa is likely to affect Cotton Belt weather patterns through the winter and into spring planting. ...


Cotton Belt set for La Niņa phase in 2012

Western Farm Press

Add David Zierden, Florida State Climatologist, to the list of weather experts predicting a continuation of La Niņa and dry conditions through winter and at ...


La Niņa-inspired dry spell may plague US southwest


"It should still be dry in that area," David Zierden, a state climatologist at Florida State University, told Reuters in an interview at the annual Beltwide ...

Upcoming Events

February 2, 2012:

NIFA Technology and Agricultural Fair in Quincy, FL


February 3, 2012:

Wiregrass Cotton Expo in Dothan, AL

February 7, 2012:

FSU Day at the Capitol in Tallahassee, FL


February 13, 2012:

Special Presentation on Climate Change in Florida by Dr. Jim O'Brien for the US Forest Service in Tallahassee, FL


February 18, 2012:

National High Magnetic Field Laboratory Open House in Tallahassee, FL


February 28, 2012:

Public Water Supply and Utilities Climate Impact Working Group Meeting in Orlando, FL

Example Data Request 

Each month, we highlight here recent examples of some of the many public services provided by the Florida Climate Center:

Early this week, the office was contacted by a local bride-to-be who was worried about weather conditions this August for her outdoor wedding in Jacksonville. She wanted to know what the weather had been like during previous years on a few specific dates she was considering for her big event. She was concerned about the chance of rain and whether or not she should make backup plans for an indoor wedding.


Historical data from Jacksonville dates back to the late 1930s, and the Florida Climate Center was able to provide her with more than 70 years of information. Based on the historical record, there was about a 45% chance of measureable precipitation (>=0.01") on the two days she was inquiring about. Also of note, the average high and low temperatures for both days were 91 and 73˚F, which may prove a bit uncomfortable for both the wedding party and guests.

About Us 

The Florida Climate Center is part of a three-tiered system of national, regional, and state climate offices, including NOAA's National Climatic Data Center and the Southeast Regional Climate Center. The Florida State Climatologist and other staff at the Florida Climate Center provide the following information and services to the people of Florida:


· Climate Data:

Historical weather observations for weather stations throughout the state of Florida. We are able to provide data for most stations from 1948-present.


· Climate Information:

Long-term historical averages for various stations, climate divisions, and the entire state.


· Extreme Event Records:

Information and analyses on extreme events such as freezes, droughts, floods and hurricanes.


· Special Analysis:

With their vast knowledge of El Niņo, La Niņa and climate variability, the State Climatologist and staff can offer expert insight into Florida's climate trends.


· Outreach:

Activities, presentations, and workshops that inform and educate the people of Florida about current and emerging climate issues. We also coordinate volunteers for the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network (CoCoRaHS).


More About Us