The last year sure has been one to remember, on many fronts. One thing that stands out weather-wise is how warm 2020 was for Tampa Bay.
Tampa had 46.82 inches of rain in 2020. Our average annual rainfall total is 46.30 inches.
This is much drier than the last several years. In 2019, we had 60.76 inches of rain at TIA, and 61.40 inches fell in 2018.
Let’s take a closer look at how this played out in Tampa.
We had a dry and very warm start to the year with below-average rainfall in January and February. In March, we only had a trace of rain. That made it the driest March on record, tying 2006.
Records go back to 1890.
We made up for it in April with almost seven inches of rain. We had two heavy rain events toward the end of the month and some severe storms.
Then the totals were down and up again for May, June, and July.
August was the wettest month of the year with 10.20 inches of rain.
The rainy season is June through September, and the dry season begins in October.
But November brought us 5.40 inches of rain, and it was one of the wettest Novembers on record. This high rainfall amount was due to Tropical Storm Eta, which passed by west of our coast on November 11.
Eta brought heavy rain, flooding, and beach erosion to the Tampa Bay area.
It was the third-wettest November on record, surpassed only by November 1988 (5.97 inches) and November 1963 (6.12 inches).
December featured several rain and severe weather events ahead of cold fronts. On December 16, an isolated cell came ashore in Pinellas County and produced an EF2 tornado shortly before 3 p.m.
The same storm moved over 50 miles into Polk County and produced an EF1 tornado north of Lakeland.
Luckily, there were no injuries that day. A total of 2.76 inches of rain fell in December, about 0.50 inches above normal for the month.
2020 Rainfall Totals:
- Tampa International Airport: 46.82 inches (0.60 inches above normal)
- Sarasota/Bradenton Airport: 57.42 inches (4.54 inches above normal)
- St. Petersburg Albert Whitted Airport: 44.15 inches (6.7 inches below normal)
- St. Pete/Clearwater Airport: 53.46 inches
- Tarpon Springs: 50.58 inches (2.04 inches below normal)
- Plant City: 56.85 inches (3.29 inches above normal)
- Lakeland: 51.26 inches (3.53 inches below normal)
- Winter Haven: 45.76 inches (5.18 inches below normal)
- Bartow: 58.97 inches (6.89 inches above normal)
- Brooksville: 46.86 inches (5.94 inches below normal)
- St. Leo: 52.46 inches (1.71 inches below normal)
- Inverness: 50.87 inches (0.92 inches below normal)
It was also another year with above-average temperatures, based on 30-year normals. At the Tampa Airport, which has become one of our warmest locations in recent years, the average temperature of 76.2 makes 2020 the second-warmest year on record.
Records began in Tampa in 1890.
The summer was a scorcher, with the hottest temperature being 99 on June 26. This tied Tampa’s hottest temperature on record with 99, also measured on June 5, 1985.
Just behind this date was August 1 with a high of 98. The coldest temperature at TIA was 36 on January 20, so this was another year without a “freeze officially” in Tampa.
A big wave of cold weather struck Tampa Bay in December, resulting in a widespread frost north of town.