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Science with Steve: Three ingredients needed for frost on the First Coast

Science with Steve explains why frosty mornings are Florida's version of snow before temperatures rebound into the 80s this weekend.

"Sleighbells ring! Are ya listenin'!? In the lane, snow is glistening."

 And by snow, I mean frost. 

Down here in Florida and southeastern Georgia, it's mostly always frost. And man was the frost was glistening this week! 

A couple of mornings this week many of us woke up to the winter delight shining in the rising sun. Officially, we've had two frosts in Jacksonville so far in 2020, which is on pace to reach the average of six. 

Three ingredients are needed for frost to develop across the First Coast; calm winds, clear skies, and cold air.

Credit: wtlv weather
Viewer Jennifer Achord snapped a picture of a frosty morning Wednesday in Southeastern Georgia.
Credit: Eric Williams

The calm and clear skies allows most, if not all, the heat absorbed during the day to escape into the atmosphere overnight. As a result, temperatures drop like rocks and we wake up to work and school needing the hat and gloves.

The air we feel out the door is about six to seven feet above the ground (which is also where official temperatures are observed) but just above the ground there is a layer of air that cools farther than what we feel, reaching to dew point value. 

When that happens, saturation and condensation occurs at or below the freezing mark and voila! Ice crystals form.