The Perpetual 70 Degree Vacation
This Year’s Experience vs. Climatology
Last week’s post explained the type of weather pattern experienced by anyone on the Perpetual 70-Degree Vacation outlined here who started the year in Florida. By comparison, let’s now look at how the results have been for those who spent the mid-winter of 2020 in other favorite winter escape places. When reading these details, keep in mind these points: weather will vary from day to day. No wintertime climate to which one can drive is totally free of rain or chilly mornings. Even a general weather forecast (specifying only warmer or colder than normal) is less likely to be correct once the prognostication period extends beyond 10 to 14 days.
Let’s look at the weather patterns so far this year in far south Texas and in the Arizona desert. The Brownsville, Texas area was even warmer with respect to normal than south Florida in the first six weeks of the New Year. As a result, Brownsville enjoyed 14 days in the 80s during the first 44 calendar days of 2020 – not too many fewer than the 20 such days experienced by those spending January in Miami and the first half of February in Orlando. Brownsville rainfall has been well below normal so far in 2020.
The Phoenix area by contrast has shared in the cooler weather pattern prevailing in the West during the past couple months. January temperatures averaged less than half a degree above normal, and the first half of February averaged more than three degrees cooler than normal. Notably, Phoenix did not reach 80 degrees at all in a three month stretch between November 18th and February 20th. The Arizona deserts do tend to run about ten degrees cooler on average than south Florida during the coldest portion of the winter. Normal highs in Phoenix are only in the mid to upper 60s during January. This is one reason that the “70 degree road trip” goes to Arizona at the end of the calendar year — before temperatures bottom out in January. As in south Texas, Phoenix-area rainfall had been well below normal so far in 2020 until this wet third weekend of February!
It’s interesting that some of the better long-range forecasters had expected Arizona and southern California to have a warmer than normal winter of 2019-20. With seasonal forecasts relying on so many varied indicators always remember that they’re a lower confidence product than the 6 to 10 day outlooks. While better than tossing a coin these longer range outlooks are seldom issued with high confidence and are subject to revision as each season progresses. If one has to choose a single location to spend winter, you still have uncertainty over what type of winter you’ll have. Those who can move every few weeks, and trust their two to four week outlooks could literally pick up and move every few weeks to where the forecast shows more warmth and less rain!
Springtime Journey North – 2019 Experience
The 70-degree road trip takes its devotees away from the Sunshine state as we prepare for the return of daylight time (on March 8th) and the spring equinox (on March 20th).
The March destination is Savannah, GA where normal high temperatures rise from the middle 60s on the first day of March to around 75 degrees on the 31st of the month. Average rainfall for the month is about 3.7 inches. In 2019, Savannah ended up with less than half of its normal March rainfall – and almost all of that fell in the first few days of the month. Last March also started off very warm. All five of the March days which reached 80 or warmer were in the first half of the month. By contrast, the second half of March, 2019 was almost totally dry in Savannah and averaged a bit cooler than normal.
Asheville, NC in April is an interesting location. It is the most likely time for the road trip to see late season snow. Though it did not snow in April of 2019, there were a couple mornings early in the month chilly enough for some light frost. Asheville does see snow on about one April day every three to four years. Normal highs rise through the 70s during the month. Severe thunderstorms are not out of the question, but the risk of tornadoes at this higher elevation is not as high as in other areas at similar latitudes. Early spring is a notably turbulent time of weather throughout the entire Nation, so the southern Appalachians are likely as good a place as any to ride out the change of seasons!
Starting in May, we get into consistently warmer and progressively more stable months. For those who want to see the other eight months of 70-degree road trip destinations, read the details here. A sneak peek at summer destinations include Kansas City, South Dakota’s Black Hills, Montana’s Glacier Park, and Seattle, WA.