NORTHWEST Fla. (WMBB) — There is no exact science to be able to predict a year’s worth of weather, and 2022 threw meteorologists a few curve balls.
Most noticeable about the Panhandle’s weather this year, were the long stretches of dryness.
“Since September, that’s what stood out the most to us in terms of how dry it’s been, not just for the Panhandle, but all across our forecast area,” Meteorologist Israel Gonzalez at the National Weather Service in Tallahassee said.
Interestingly, as of December 27th rainfall totals at the airport are nearing 60 inches, which is about average.
However, in the first quarter of the year, dryness ahead of severe weather season ultimately gave way to three wildfires, the largest was the Bertha Swamp Road fire, burning through 28,000 acres across three counties.
Then severe weather season struck.
“We had a total of four EF-0 tornadoes to EF ones, one EF two, and then the strongest of the year was an EF-3 that took place in Washington and Jackson County,” Gonzalez said. “That actually, unfortunately, resulted in two fatalities and two injuries, as you recall. It was easily the strongest tornado of the year. Not just for your area, but just our whole forecast area in general.”
By summertime, the heat quickly set in, and the region recorded a significant heat wave in the second half of June. On the 23rd a record high of 99 degrees was set, beating the previous record of 94 degrees in 2015.
Now onto hurricane season, which for the Panhandle, whose shoreline has been bombarded with tropical activity in 2020 and 2021, was a big upset.
In the cases of Hurricane Ian and Hurricane Nicole, the Northwest region of Florida remained on the dry side of each system. Hurricane season is a time when our region usually tacks on significant rainfall, but without it, severe drought sets in for the end of the year.
The last quarter of the year, cold snaps had a hay day.
“The first freeze of the season happened on November 18th when Panama City recorded 31 degrees, which was earlier by six days on average, meaning that on average the first freeze for Panama City happens on November 24th,” Gonzalez said.
Christmas Eve was the coldest it had been in about 30 years, and the coldest day in all of 2022, dropping to 19 degrees, and a wind chill value of 7.
Meteorologists at the National Weather Service in Tallahassee are tracking rain for the final days of 2022, hoping to ease ongoing drought problems in the year 2023.