Florida Keys

Florida Keys sets a record for cold Feb. 20

The Florida Keys may not be facing sub-zero temperatures like the northeast but Thursday and Friday, longtime residents felt like they were.

Key West had a record low for the city for Feb. 20 at 6 a.m. when weather instruments at Key West International Airport read 49 degrees, said Alan Albanese, senior weather forecaster with the National Weather Service in Key West.

"The previous record [for that date] was last set in 1958 at 52 degrees," Albanese said. "The typical low temperature for the Keys this time of year is 67 degrees."

The coldest it ever measured in the Keys was 41 on Jan. 13, 1981.

The weather was colder in the Middle and Upper Keys, dropping to 45 at Florida Keys Marathon Airport and 42 degrees at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo.

"We had an arctic air mass that dropped into the central plains and followed the trajectory down the Florida coast," Albanese said. "The air mass spread into the Upper Keys at 3 a.m., Marathon at 4 a.m. and Key West by 6 a.m."

Albanese noted that some visitors -- the Keys are already packed with northerners tired of the record-breaking snow -- may be making it down to the Keys this weekend just as the weather begins to warm up.

Today's temperatures are expected to rise into the low 70s. On Sunday, the sun should be out and warming the islands to 77 degrees. By Monday, Albanese said to expect 80-degree weather.

"This isn't like the 2010 campaign where 50-degree weather was persistent for six to eight weeks," Albanese said. "There's a warming trend coming up and I don't see any repeats of this [weather] for a while."

Go to KeysNet.com to read more.