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Walt

Microclimate/sub zone

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Walt

Up until 2003 the USDA rated my area (Lake Placid, Florida) zone 9a. While the USDA qualifies their rating(s), saying there are microclimates that can run warmer, thus raising one's zone, I feel they are in error to a large extent, as many of these warmer areas are just too large to be referred to as a microclimate, at least in the context of the county's size in area (and by definition of microclimate).

For lack of a better term/word, I think some of these areas are actually sub climates, as they comprise, in some cases, many square miles of area.

In any event, the photos below show some of the coconut palms growing here, which indicate a higher zone rating than zone 9a. Some of the warmer areas around here are due to the lake effect, some due to elevation. I took these photos today:

These coconut trees are in a residential area of the town of Lake Placid, and are at an elevation of about 150 feet above sea level. Hence, they are in the inversion air layer, which is warmer on radiational cooling nights:

2377726530042496162WeoFIX_th.jpg

by waltcat100

This coconut palm (there's a twin on the opposite side of the house, not shown) is growing lake side (south end of 3,500 acre lake).

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by waltcat100

The following coconut palms (there are many others) are growing one to four blocks from lakeside, and also at higher elevation that slopes to lake:

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by waltcat100

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by waltcat100

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by waltcat100

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by waltcat100

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Walt

More coconut palms within blocks of lakes:

These two coconut palms were about eight blocks from a large lake. I noticed they seemed to have gotten some frost burn (at least that's what it appears to me):

2365670510042496162uEfhGM_th.jpg

by waltcat100

Lake side coconut:

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by waltcat100

Coconut two blocks from lake:

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by waltcat100

Coconuts two blocks from lake:

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by waltcat100

Majesty palms and coconut palm near lakeside:

2054272110042496162ZmqehU_th.jpg

by waltcat100

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Walt

Coconuts, foxtails, and royals 1/2 block from lake:

2261430260042496162eufQPB_th.jpg

by waltcat100

These coconuts where planted six weeks ago. I talked to the owner (who was well into his 80s) and he told me he had coconuts before and they were killed by the Christmas freeze of 1989:

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by waltcat100

Fruiting coconuts close to lakeside:

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by waltcat100

Double royal palms close to lake (in background). Water is everything in inland central Florida for keeping nighttime temperatures up:

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by waltcat100

More double royal palms near lake (see lake in far background):

2108004990042496162gQzeQD_th.jpg

by waltcat100

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Walt

Mature royal palm in front of lake side residence:

2068329060042496162neUaFr_th.jpg

by waltcat100

Mature royals at residence near lakeside:

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by waltcat100

Mature royal palm in lake front community. This palm is one block from the lake:

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by waltcat100

Two royals about four blocks from lake:

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by waltcat100

Foxtail palm one block from lake:

2656058850042496162GgZNvY_th.jpg

by waltcat100

Foxtail one block from lake:

2284469730042496162pWVUMD_th.jpg

by waltcat100

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Steve in Brookings

(Walt @ Sep. 05 2006,22:28)

QUOTE
For lack of a better term/word, I think some of these areas are actually sub climates, as they comprise, in some cases, many square miles of area.

Among horticulturalists, the term "mesoclimate" in commonly used for neighborhood climates.  The term is particularly widespread in the West Coast wine industry

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philinsydney

Walt,

Are there any wild (self-seeding) cocnuts in Florida? In Australia they only grow spontaneously north of Ingham, Qld, which is well into the tropics.

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SubTropicRay

Hi Phil,

Coconuts do sprout here near the base of large, fruiting trees.  This occurs primarily in the southern third of the peninsula.

Ray

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spockvr6

Walt-

All I can say is....if those are all 9a Royals and Coconuts.......I think we have a viable business opportunity here in marketing "20 degree tropicals"!

Lets start collecting seeds ASAP!

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Walt

Steve: Thanks for that information. I almost was certain there had to be some kind of intermediate term for a geographical area residing within a larger area, with a set climate. And I've always maintained that it woud be an oxymoron to refer to an area of several square miles a "microclimate."

Phillip: I've never seen any volunteer coconuts sprout beneath coconut palms. For one thing, there's just not that many of these palms around here, and what are here are in maintained yards, so the owners would probably pick up any fallen nuts. Further, I don't know if the coconuts here are even viable. I haven't had the chance to ask a coconut palm owner if they have tried to sprout one.

Larry: If we could market  coconuts and royals that could handle 20 degree temperatures, we would be rich men, for sure! You could retire tomorrow and I could greatly enhance my already retirement status!

Below are some more photos I took yesterday. I plan to take many more this week.

Silver bismarkia palm one block from lake:

2932977430042496162GwWdnu_th.jpg

by waltcat100

Solitaire palms near lake:

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by waltcat100

Solitaire palms near lake:

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by waltcat100

Solitaire palms near lake:

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by waltcat100

Fiddle leaf fig (Ficus lyrata) one block from lake:

2365765790042496162KNhdjr_th.jpg

by waltcat100

Royal poinciana (Delonix regia) near lake:

2191936280042496162WLZaXX_th.jpg

by waltcat100

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spockvr6

Walt-

I know many might find them somewhat ho-hum...but my favorite pic in the ones above is the Ficus lyrata!  Thats a great looking specimen.

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alex_7b

I wonder if one could do an informal analysis of the palm species and condition, as a function of lake proximity. It might show how close to the lake a Cocos could thrive-live-survive-perish. The same thing with Royals, Triangles, Spindles, etc. Of course, the conclusions would be limited because of the lake acreage. IE difficult to extrapolate to other sized bodies of water in So FL.

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Walt

Larry: I posted the fiddle leaf fig tree as it's a solid indicator of zone 10a. While one can find fiddle leaf figs in zone 9b, they will almost always be smaller from being frozen back (the case at my place, where both my FLF were totally defoliated and frozen partially back).

Alex: I read that even a lake (here in Florida) one acre in area can create a substantial increase in nighttime temperatures close in to the lake.

Case in point: Note the last photo below showing an aerial map of Lake Clay (in my subdivision). Note the two small lakes to the right of Lake Clay, and especially the smallest one near the top right hand corner. This lake is only about one acre, yet, around this small lake there was no foliage damage to bananas, ficus benjaminia, etc., this past Feb. 14th when I recorded 27 degrees in my front yard, just a couple of blocks down the road.

The below photos were taken at the southeast end of Lake Clay (just one mile from my house). I talked to the owner and he said his father planted the royal palms and Ficus Benghalensis trees from seed back in the 1950s. While he told me these trees have been somewhat defoliated during the worst advective freezes, they have stood the test of time to prove the lake effect principle.

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by waltcat100

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by waltcat100

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by waltcat100

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SoLando

In no way, shape, or form does that look like 9a. Barely even 9b!!

So, could being as far as two blocks from a lake make a significant difference? I'm about one block east of a pretty big lake, Lake Marsha and probably a good 5 south of Turkey Lake. So, could I have somewhat of a warmer microclimate (or mesoclimate) than someone in another part of Orlando?

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spockvr6

(SoLando @ Sep. 06 2006,18:34)

QUOTE
In no way, shape, or form does that look like 9a. Barely even 9b!!

Jen-

These areas are more like 10b!

From all the notes Walt and I have compared, these inetrior lakefront properties rival Gulf front properties with regard to wintertime absolute lows.

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spockvr6

(SoLando @ Sep. 06 2006,18:34)

QUOTE
So, could I have somewhat of a warmer microclimate (or mesoclimate) than someone in another part of Orlando?

Compare your temps on 2/14/06 to those in the areas away from the lake and youll have your answer as this was a radiational cooling event.

Id say that if you were in the 38-40F range...then yes...you have a sweet lake effect going on!

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SoLando

Man, I have no idea what my temp was on that day. All I know is that that weekend I was in Daytona for NASCAR!! It was DAMN cold.

Is there a site I could check? Or, I'll just have to wait until winter and compare with others. ;)

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spockvr6

Jen-

You might try going to weatherunderground.com and typing in your zipcode.  Youll then be able to see some amatuer stations around your area.

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Walt

Jen: My parent's have a lake front lot here in Lake Placid. At present the lot is undeveloped (bare except for weeds and some small trees).

This past winter I placed a High-Low mercury thermometer at the base of a small tree at my parent's lot. On the coldest mornings of the year I drove over to my parent's lot to check what the low temperature was.

January 8th: My low was 33 degrees (I'm not near a lake). The lot temperature was 45 degrees. This was a radiational cooling night/morning.

February 14th: My low was 27 degrees. The lot temperature was 39 degrees. This was also a radiational cooling event.

And further, that 39 degrees was at ground level, which is the coldest during a radiational cooling event. Had that same High-Low thermometer been at 5 feet above the ground I'm almost sure it would have read 40 degrees, maybe slightly more.

As far as how far out the "lake effect" extends, I'm not totally sure. I have to assume the larger the lake the farther its effect carries. That being said, I did do some checking on this based solely on temperature/frost sensitive indicator plants. In my subdivision, the lake effect on the east side of Lake Clay extended out about three blocks. Within three blocks of the lake the indicator plants were not frost/freeze damaged. From about 3-5 blocks was a transitional area where the indicator plants started showing freeze/frost damage, and getting progressively worse the farther away from the lake they were growing. After 5 blocks the indicator plants were totally fried/defoliated from freeze/frost.

Basically, the lakes act like a big radiator. I read that the surface water temperature of the lakes in my area average 67 degrees in December, so there's no doubt they have a positive effect on the local climate.

However, during an advective cooling event the lakes provide very little warming effect. But luckily for the folks that live next to lakes, I'd estimate that 90 percent of our coldest winter days are from radiational cooling events, where the lakes can release enough heat keep lakeside properties ten degrees higher than non lakeside properties.

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SoLando

Thanks so much for informing be on this. I'm extremely new at the "tropical plants thing," so I've still got a lot to learn. Luckily, I found this forum!

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happ

Thanks for the beautiful photos, Walt  :P

And a photo of poinciana in full flower?  The royals are phenomenal.  Ficus lyrata seems to need lots of shade until well-established but become giants.

The single deciding USDA factor is probability of frost/sub-freezing temperatures.  The historic tragedy  is that cocos nucifera can be wiped out overnight thus the 9a.

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Neofolis

I'm now trying to work out how to convince the local council to create a lake somewhere near my house.  There is certainly the land on which to do it.  I wonder how big a lake has to be to have a significant effect, 3500 acres is obviously huge, but then zone 9a - 10b is also a big difference.

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Walt

Happ: Yes, that was one of many royal poinciana trees here. It was way past it's peak bloom, though.

Neofolis: I've read a lake only has to be about one acre in area (.40 hectares) to provide a substantial nighttime temperature increase in my part of Florida.

But I'm sure water temperature will factor into it. Most lakes around here are actually the upper ground water surface, and ground water here in the winter is maybe 75 degrees F (23.65C), while the lakes surface water temperature is in the high 60s F.

If we were to get a protracted period of cold weather and cloudiness, the lake water will cool down even more, rendering it less effective (keeping nighttime low temperatures up).

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