Miami’s yearlong sizzling temperatures were enough to beat a chilly end to 2017, tying the record for the hottest year on the books.
The National Weather Service reported Tuesday that December officially ended with an average monthly temperature of 79.1 degrees in Miami. That’s high enough to end the year in a tie with 2015, when an El Niño helped amplify the steamy tropics and produce a warm, soggy winter that felt more like spring.
The announcement came after a brief mix-up in how records are calculated.
On Monday, the Service’s Miami office said temperatures had narrowly missed tying 2015. But that number was based on a daily average. Year-end records use monthly averages to avoid inconsistency created in leap years when the number of days are greater.
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“The confusion came if you do it daily,” said Service meteorologist Larry Kelly. “But that’s not the official record.”
The correction was made after University of Miami senior research scientist Brian McNoldy, who has been tracking the escalating temperatures, noted the error.
“In most instances this isn't a big deal, but in this case it made the difference of 0.1 degrees, and more importantly the difference between being tied for first and being in second place,” Christopher Fisher, the Service’s Miami Observation Program Leader, said in an email.
Overall, 2017 will be remembered for its extremes, the agency said in its year-end wrap-up.
The year started with a La Niña heating up the winter and triggering drought conditions through spring that helped spark wildfires across the state, leading Gov. Rick Scott to declare a state of emergency in April. Not to be outdone, the wet season arrived with its own record intensity, becoming the wettest in 86 years. By year’s end, some areas set new highs for rainfall, including Opa-locka, Naples and Marco Island. Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood recorded their third wettest years, the Service reported.
The biggest weather story of the year, Hurricane Irma, also marked its own record by becoming the most intense hurricane ever observed outside the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. The storm also helped set a new monthly record for accumulated cyclone energy, which tallies the duration of hurricane intensity.
While no single record can be attributed to climate change, the trend is in keeping with a warming planet that climate scientists say is likely to create more extremes, including hurricanes that are more intense, more severe wildfire seasons and heavier rainfall.
In addition to the monthly and yearly average temps, forecasters said the number of daily highs that broke previous records was also “astounding.” Miami set 53 new record highs over the course of the year. Fort Lauderdale set 35, Palm Beach hit 28 and Naples saw 22 new record daily highs. That’s in keeping with the trend in previous years, in which even low temperatures for the day were warmer.
Follow Jenny Staletovich on Twitter @jenstaletovich
An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that the average monthly temperature in Miami was 79.2 degrees.
Record temps recorded around the state
These are the record temperatures recorded at airports — where official temps are recorded — for Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach and Naples; the chart also shows how each place ranked against its own record temperatures.
Location (beginning of historical record)
2017 avg. temp. (F) through 12/28
Departure from normal (F)
Rank through 12/28
Miami International (1895)
Tied for 1st-warmest
Fort Lauderdale Int’l (1912)
Palm Beach Int’l (1888)
Naples Municipal (1942)
SOURCE: NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE