81° would be a temperature most-often achieved on an April afternoon in Gainesville. That’s the average high for April 16th. Today’s WRUF forecast high of 81 would come short of the record high for this date, but January 10th, 2013 has already been record-setting. The warmest-ever morning low temperature for this date was set with Gainesville Regional Airport only dropping to 68°, well above the previous record warm minimum of 65° set almost a century ago in 1914.
Today would be day two of what WRUF has been forecasting to be an eight-day stretch of near-80 degree warmth in the middle of the month that is usually the coldest. The average high temperature for this week is in the middle 60s. 80 degrees is certainly not unusual for a January day, especially on a bright and sunny day. But eight days in a row? And with cloud cover? Something is definitely going on in our atmosphere that deserves an explanation. We have to look to the jet stream, the river of air thousands of feet up in the atmosphere that steers weather systems. A ridge of high pressure has established itself near the Bahamas, and weather systems are not strong enough to move it. We call this a “blocking high”. Rather than cold fronts moving in from the west, like is normally the case this time of year, they are forced to move around the high pressure system and well to our north. The result is a prolonged period of southerly winds, warm temperatures, and relatively dry conditions.
This weather pattern is not forecast to break down until at least the middle of next week, resulting in a prolonged period of abnormally warm weather. Daytime highs will likely top out near or just above 80 through next Wednesday. Overnight lows will mostly be near or above 60 degrees. Little or no precipitation, other than a small and brief afternoon shower, is expected for the next seven days as well. A stronger cold front will likely begin to break down the aforementioned ridge of high pressure by next Wednesday or Thursday, finally allowing some cooler weather to move in with the added possibility of rain.