30th anniversary of the infmaous 1985 arctic outbreak

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I remember that freeze vividly, I used grove heaters to heat the yard but did not do a bit of good. Had a low of 25 in my part of St Pete. I don't want to see a repeat of the 80's anytime soon (in more ways than one :winkie: ), like never!

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I was on the eve of leaving Ohio at that time.

That cold spell banished any second thoughts I had, let me tell you! Set the time to escape for March, 1985. Told everyone, gave notice to the bosses.

Cleveland got cold; the official temps weren't as cold as we had. At one point we had about -28 F, without the wind-chill. Cleveland Hopkins airport only got down to -18 F. (Maybe the heat from the planes helped.)

There's nothing to stop the Arctic express from roaring on through again.

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I have foggy memory of that outbreak. I was in the hospital in Alexandria VA recovering from major surgery and highly medicated. According to the link above, Washington (Reagan) National Airport hit -4. I missed all the excitement.

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Three major arctic outbreaks in the 80's. For most 89 was the worst. It was a bitch of a decade that broke the back of many a gardener, so of whom never took it up again.

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Here is my personal record of the event. The main Temps and conditions were for Daytona Beach , with a

comparison to Sebring.

That is the all time low for Daytona Beach. There was a tiny bit of snow as the front went through , and it lingered

thru the day in places like the north sides of buildings , that received no sun . (High of 36 deg.)

That front killed 98 % of Queen palms here , and about 70 % of the Washingtonias, and absolutely flattened anything

remotely tropical.

It was devastating , and so the '89 freeze seemed less damaging here ( it wasn't as cold ) , as there wasn't a lot to kill, since

many people were reluctatnt to plant tender stuff . We also had temps in the 18-19 deg range in '81-'82 .

I had a lot of good times in the '80's , but not so much plantwise .12210674524_db8e76e092_b.jpg

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Great calendar Bill!

In Tampa, no 1980's freeze was worse than 1983. The NWS really screwed up the forecast by calling for lows in the 40's and it was 19F the following morning. I'd say they slightly underestimated the cold front's intensity :mrlooney:.

The 1985, 1982 and 1989 freezes were second, third and fourth worst that decade. The 1989 freeze was harder on Florida's east coast. In 1989, Tampa's lowest temp was 24F and Fairchild's 200 miles south was 26F.

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Ray, I agree, 1983 was the worst for the west coast, in St Pete I had a low of 25, winds and 12+ hours below freezing. I used my grove heaters that I bought from Sunken Gardens and they did not do any good because of the wind. I remember the Washintonia's being defoliated in Tampa. I just moved down to Florida in 1980 with great expectations of growing coconuts, well that did not work well in the 80's in St Pete!

I have to laugh when I see now that St Pete is considered Zone 10a, I would have never imagined that as in the 80's it was extremely rare to find any coconut palms around St Pete. I remember at the Vinoy Resort that was abandoned at that time and it had one tall coconut palm in it's court yard and survived most of the 80's but finally died in the late 80's. Then of course they reopened the Vinoy shortly afterwards. I was involved with Kopsick at that time also and the freezes really hurt us.

When we moved back to Florida 8 months ago I was afraid I would get stuck in a freeze cycle again, so we choose Cape Coral, even though I would rather be even further south. If I had the means I would move to Key West or Hawaii!

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I remember it well, the 2nd of the 3 horrible freezes of the 1980s. 12/83 was bad, it killed things around here but many palms and tropicals survived just severely injured. Then the 1/85 freeze hit and killed quite a few of the survivors. 4 years passed and then the whopper in 12/89 just wiped out most of the survivors and killed what had been replanted. Around Orlando the 1989 freeze was the worst of the 3.

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I have to laugh when I see now that St Pete is considered Zone 10a

Since 1989, winter hasn't been what it once was. I'm inclined to thinking the 1980's were the anomaly and not the other way around. Urbanization has certainly also played a role.

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You should check 1893,1895 and 1899! Can you say 90 year cycles?

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Without doing a big search, here are some significant cold events in Florida and the East in general.

1894-5 , 1940 , 1957-8 , 1962 , 1977 , 1981-2 , 1983 , 1985 , 1989 , 1992-3 , 2010 .

I don't ,off the top , know much about events between 1895 and 1940 , so there may be some in that gap .

Here is a link to the year/winter of 1940 .

http://docs.lib.noaa.gov/rescue/mwr/069/mwr-069-02-0049.pdf

(I had noticed that many of the low temp records in Daytona , throughout the year , were set in 1940 , and asked my

brother , who is a meteorologist to dig up some info .)

NOAA has some new gen supercomputers coming on soon , but Mom Nature is very complex .

I still like the Butterfly concept. Lots of little swirls being at the right place at the right time, combined with whatever other

events may be happening creates an enhancement that then encounters another enhanced swirl that ....................

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Just found these photos at Disney's Polynesian taken in 1985, looks like the queens had been burnt. Source of pictures here.

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Are those two fried palms in the second pic to the right, visible just above that large bush, coconuts??  They are probably queen palms, but look like they could be really fried Cocos.  I've seen my fair share of the latter :floor:

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I remember the water mains bursting in Houston in 1983 with 8b temperatures and it was three days before water service was restored. 1989 was a 8a winter for Houston and killed almost all the palms.

I visited Orlando in the warm months of 1983 on business recruiting aerospace engineers in central Florida to move to Houston to work on Space Shuttle programs at JSC. One day I took an exploration trip to an undeveloped area about 50-75 miles S.W. of Orlando. I ended up on a dirt road in a somewhat swampy wooded area and was amazed to see the tree limbs heavily laden with bromeliads. They were thick with many tree limbs covered with them.

I made another trip to Orlando in the early spring of 1985 and went back to that same wooded area to once again view the trees laden with bromeliads. To my astonishment 99% of the Bromeliads were dead and the floor of the forest was littered with their carcasses. On another day trip I went to Tampa and noticed that the bay was ringed by dead mangroves.

I imagine that the bromeliads and mangroves move up and down the Florida peninsula from decade to decade as freezes come and go. The nice thing about Florida is that these types of tropical plants can find refuge in S. Florida and then move back up the peninsula during warm periods.

Ed in Houston

 

 

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The winter of 2000 and 2001 in South Florida was a bad one too.  I lived in Coral Springs (Broward County) at the time, normally a Zone 10B Climate, and we had frost and freeze warnings going on and off for about 2.5 to 3 straight weeks in Broward and Palm Beach Counties, especially for the areas a few miles inland from the Intracoastal Waterway.  On Jan. 1st, 2001, the temperature at the park across the street from where I lived dropped to at least 32F.  I took a thermometer over to an open area of the park by the only coconut palm growing in the park at daybreak and it read 32F, but the temp may have dropped a degree or two lower an hour or so before that.  That same morning though, at Homestead, the temp dropped to 28F, and Homestead is only about 20 miles north of Key Largo!  Also, I remember in the northern Everglades, there was a report of 19F, the lowest temp ever recorded there and something like 19,000 acres of sugar cane was wiped out! 

I honestly think the reason Florida, especially South and Central Florida has had such bad winters over the last 15+ years is due to the massive draining of the bayous and swamps, and the massive overdevelopment and thus desertification of the region from what used to be a tropical/warm subtropical moist climate to a drier and thus cooler winter time climate.  The extensive depletion of the once vast natural water resources of Central and South Florida that once buffered the region from horrible arctic outbreaks, is no longer there.  This cooling affect in Florida also coincided with one of if not the worst drought Florida ever recorded in 2000 and 2001 in which the "wet" season was FAR DRIER than the dry season normally is.  Martin County north of Palm Beach County at the time was so dry on the drought index that it was equivalent to Arizona at the time!  Drier air causes lower dew points and thus lower nighttime low temps.

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The 1983 and 1989 freezes were EXTREMELY BRUTAL in South Texas.  I was living in Martindale outside of San Marcos in 1983, and as I recall it got down to 7F in San Marcos, 17F in Brownsville, and 21F at South Padre Island!  But in 1989, as I recall, it got down to 2F in San Antonio, 0F in Sequin, where I was living, 16F in Brownsville, and 17F at South Padre!  The 1983 freeze in the Rio Grande Valley, from what I understand was the first across the board coconut killing freeze in decades, then they were hit just six years later by another even worse freeze.  Needless to say, for about 10 years after the 1980's people did not plant many if any Zone 10 plants in the Valley, but now the Valley, especially the Lower Valley (Brownsville, Port Isabel, and South Padre) are full of them:  many large royal palms, many large royal poincianas, many large ficus, and some pretty large mature and fruiting coconut palms again.

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On 1/23/2015, 9:58:37, bubba said:

You should check 1893,1895 and 1899! Can you say 90 year cycles?

 

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1899 may have been the worst.

 

feb-1899-coldest-lows-map.jpg?v=at&w=980

 

Ed in Houston

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On 30/12/2015 03:15:12, Mr. Coconut Palm said:

I honestly think the reason Florida, especially South and Central Florida has had such bad winters over the last 15+ years is due to the massive draining of the bayous and swamps, and the massive overdevelopment and thus desertification of the region from what used to be a tropical/warm subtropical moist climate to a drier and thus cooler winter time climate.  The extensive depletion of the once vast natural water resources of Central and South Florida that once buffered the region from horrible arctic outbreaks, is no longer there.  This cooling affect in Florida also coincided with one of if not the worst drought Florida ever recorded in 2000 and 2001 in which the "wet" season was FAR DRIER than the dry season normally is.  Martin County north of Palm Beach County at the time was so dry on the drought index that it was equivalent to Arizona at the time!  Drier air causes lower dew points and thus lower nighttime low temps.

I was living in Fort Lauderdale at the time of the 85 freeze.  I had ice on the bananas.  At the time I was working for an airline in Miami and had a shift starting at 6 AM.  I worked on the ramp unloading and loading the planes.  It was real cold out there on the open airport ramp.  I really do not think that modification of the landscape in south Florida would make too big a difference though.  Florida is very flat and there is nothing to stop the cold air from moving down the state.  Cold air is a real powerful thing.  Even here at 3.25 degrees south latitude in the middle of the most humid tropical forest in the world we occaisionally get the end of a cold front from Antárctica.  It is not much of an impact, but it does keep the day time temperatures below 80 F.  I am sure that urbanization of Florida, especially South Florida has had an impact on local climate.  But, to what extent it impacts the advance  of cold fronts I think is hard to tell.  One thing I did not realize until I spent a good amount of time in Montana last December and January is that when it is real cold, below zero the humidity is quite high.  Right now the temperature in Bozeman, Montana is 23.5 F and the relative humidity is 64 percent.  Here in Manaus the temperature right now, 6:15 PM is 86 F and the relative humidity is 70 pércent.  The dew point in Manaus is 70 F, and in Bozeman is 13 F.   I do not know if this has any relavance.  Personally I prefer the weather where I am on the Earth right now.

 

dk

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Ed,

1899, may have been the year that they called it the "Year Without A Summer" in which even the summer time temps were way below normal.  That is also the year that I believe Brownsville hit there all time record low of 12F.

 

Don,

What I mean is that there has been so much of the native forests cleared and swamps drained or drastically altered in Florida that it has really changed the climate significantly over what it was about 40 to 50 years ago.  Yes, there are some heat island effects due to urbanization in areas like Orlando, but overall the large degree of deforestation, draining of swamps and bayous for the extensive agricultural areas in Central and South Florida do not cause a heat island effect but rather, if anything would probably cause cooler/colder pockets in those areas than when those areas were forested and swampy.  Also, much of the clearing of land there for agriculture and more rural subdivisions causes a significant drying effect as tree canopy in a forested and especially swampy area has a significantly higher humidity and thus more rainfall than  vast areas that have been cleared.  I think this is what probably helped cause Brownsville to hit its all time record low in the late 1890's (I believe 1899 in which Brownsville dropped down to 12F).  Granted that was a VERY cold winter nationwide, but also, if I am not mistaken was shortly after vast areas of the native subtropical jungle and forest along the Rio Grande River had been cleared for agricultural purposes.  Only about 2% of the native subtropical jungle and palm forest that existed along the Lower Rio Grande Valley still exists today.  I have mentioned a theory to a professor from the University down there who gave a lecture to us Palm Society of South Texas members at the Sabal Palm Grove Sanctuary southeast of Brownsville about a year ago that I think the vast deforestation of the area over the last 130+ years has actually dropped the normal annual average rainfall there from about 31 to 35 inches down to its current average of about 26 inches.  He concurred with my theory.  There used to be many years ago something like 80,000+ acres of native subtropical jungle and palm forest along the Lower Rio Grande River from what is now Falcon Damn southeastward to the Rio Grande Delta east of Brownsville.

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John,

I guess that could be.  But, cold fronts may be a lot more powerful than changes in vegetation.  I would imagine that there is some impact.  But the impact of Arttic air would be the greater.  Forests can be great weather makers.  In Brazil one of the main weather makers is the Amazon basin and it´s forests.  But, the scale of the forests is vastly greater than anything found elsewhere in the world.   The forest of Amazonas state alone is the secondl largest tropical forest in the world only smaller than the entire Braziian Amazonian forest.  Here the forest generates weather. The Amazon basis could be compared to the Gulf of Mexico maybe in North America.

 

dk

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On ‎12‎/‎27‎/‎2015‎ ‎9‎:‎34‎:‎08‎, Ed in Houston said:

I remember the water mains bursting in Houston in 1983 with 8b temperatures and it was three days before water service was restored. 1989 was a 8a winter for Houston and killed almost all the palms.

I visited Orlando in the warm months of 1983 on business recruiting aerospace engineers in central Florida to move to Houston to work on Space Shuttle programs at JSC. One day I took an exploration trip to an undeveloped area about 50-75 miles S.W. of Orlando. I ended up on a dirt road in a somewhat swampy wooded area and was amazed to see the tree limbs heavily laden with bromeliads. They were thick with many tree limbs covered with them.

I made another trip to Orlando in the early spring of 1985 and went back to that same wooded area to once again view the trees laden with bromeliads. To my astonishment 99% of the Bromeliads were dead and the floor of the forest was littered with their carcasses. On another day trip I went to Tampa and noticed that the bay was ringed by dead mangroves.

I imagine that the bromeliads and mangroves move up and down the Florida peninsula from decade to decade as freezes come and go. The nice thing about Florida is that these types of tropical plants can find refuge in S. Florida and then move back up the peninsula during warm periods.

Ed in Houston

 

 

This is very interesting Ed.

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Just found this gem- clip from the Weather Channel during this event. Check out those temperature maps starting at the 4:38 min mark.

 

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The 1985 freeze was a record-setter in Lakeland, tying the 1962 freeze for lowest temperature ever recorded here (20F).

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1985 was the last time some parts of NYC dipped below 0F. JFK Airport set an all time record low of -2F, which is the same record low as Tallahassee.

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