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El Niño is coming!

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SunnyFl

Agreed - a much needed respite!

Almost wondering if it's already here.  Are you getting these daily deluges that we've been having?  It rains - heavily - a few times a day and it's been going on for awhile.  Last time this happened was during the E.N. of '97.

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bgl

Well, El Niño may be good for Florida, but we certainly don't need another one here in Hawaii. Last time El Niño showed up was in early 1998 and the first 85 days of that year were very dry. Only a total of 5 inches in that entire period. Everything dried out. Brush fires in the sub-division. Hopefully the next one won't show up for another 50 years....

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Walt

When I moved permanently to Florida (Highlands County) in Dec. of '97, we were under the El Nino weather pattern. While we got lots of winter rain (and some tornados) and maybe cooler average temperatures, I don't think it dropped below 40 degrees for lows all winter long. It was the only winter since moving here I don't recall seeing frost. I would relish a repeat of that winter for this upcoming winter.

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Neofolis

Your El Niño events usually benefit us here as well, but the problem is that they are often followed by La Niña events the following year, which are not good.

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Exotic Life

That give us more sunny day's and warm day's :) September starts dry en sunny :)

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spockvr6

(Walt @ Sep. 08 2006,23:27)

QUOTE
When I moved permanently to Florida (Highlands County) in Dec. of '97, we were under the El Nino weather pattern. While we got lots of winter rain (and some tornados) and maybe cooler average temperatures, I don't think it dropped below 40 degrees for lows all winter long. It was the only winter since moving here I don't recall seeing frost. I would relish a repeat of that winter for this upcoming winter.

Im with you Walt!

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Dave-Vero

Wetter-than-usual Florida winters are important for native plants in habitats like Florida scrub (as in Archbold Biological Station).  Moisture during the usual dry season is very good for germination and establishment.

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SunnyFl

(bgl @ Sep. 08 2006,22:30)

QUOTE
Well, El Niño may be good for Florida, but we certainly don't need another one here in Hawaii. Last time El Niño showed up was in early 1998 and the first 85 days of that year were very dry. Only a total of 5 inches in that entire period. Everything dried out. Brush fires in the sub-division. Hopefully the next one won't show up for another 50 years....

Bo, that sounds awful!  Especially the fires.  I wouldn't wish for an El Niño, knowing that.  Was it especially bad in '98 because that one was very strong?

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bgl

Sunny,

Yes, in the 11 years I've been here in Hawaii, it was really only the one in early 98 that caused problems. Not sure, but maybe there's been a weaker El Niño since? Anyway, the problem for us with the El Niño in 1998 wasn't simply the lack of rain. We did, after all, get 5 inches in the first 85 days that year (normal rainfall resumed on March 25th, 98). The problem was 3 fold:

1) the lack of rain

2) with less clouds, most days were very hot and sunny, causing everything to dry up, and creating ideal conditions for brush and forest fires. (A typical non-El Niño day here is maybe 80% cloudcover and 20% sun).

3) less humidity, and even though this obviously was far less of a threat than the other two it did cause severe stress for certain rainforest palms. I remember losing some Geonomas and Pholidostachys, and I'm convinced it was because of the lack of humidity.

We had a brush fire in our subdivision that completely burnt down all trees in a major area of lower Leilani Estates (about a mile away from where we live), and there were a couple of very close calls with some houses, but in the end, no houses were destroyed. One lady, whom we know, had the flames about 30 ft away from her front door, and neighbors from all over the subdivision helped move out ALL her stuff from her house. I think it took her 3 weeks to get it all back! But at least her house was safe. Even though her view was now of charred trees instead of a beautiful forest!

Bo-Göran

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amazondk

Here in Amazonia El Nino normally produces dryer than normal weather.  This increases the risk of forest fires, especially in areas with more deforestation.  This effect covers Amazonia and the Northeast of Brazil.  So, I guess we get the same impact that Bo does in Hawaii.  

dk

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SunnyFl

(bgl @ Sep. 10 2006,02:16)

QUOTE
3) less humidity, and even though this obviously was far less of a threat than the other two it did cause severe stress for certain rainforest palms. I remember losing some Geonomas and Pholidostachys, and I'm convinced it was because of the lack of humidity.

We had a brush fire in our subdivision that completely burnt down all trees in a major area of lower Leilani Estates (about a mile away from where we live), and there were a couple of very close calls with some houses, but in the end, no houses were destroyed. One lady, whom we know, had the flames about 30 ft away from her front door, and neighbors from all over the subdivision helped move out ALL her stuff from her house. I think it took her 3 weeks to get it all back! But at least her house was safe. Even though her view was now of charred trees instead of a beautiful forest!

Bo-Göran

Bo - that's dreadful!  Just thinking of your beautiful garden - and the consequences of the lack of rain & humidity.  The brush fires sound very frightening, has to be terrible watching a fireline advance toward your home.

If, as you say, the EN of '98 was the only one that caused the problem - this was probably because it was the strongest on record.  Maybe more normal ones won't have such bad effects.

Ironically, FL had its worst outbreak of wildfires statewide during that same El Niño - not from lack of rain, but due to incredible lightning that torched all the brush that had accumulated.  The expanses of pine farms fueled the wildfires; the large areas of sabal minor and serenoa repens worsened the situation (there's a flammable substance in their sap).

Also had our very worst tornado outbreak during that El Niño.  It struck at night in Central FL - 42 people were killed.  Again - because it was such a strong EN.

They're predicting the coming EN will be a weak one, so hopefully there won't be severe effects like the ones in '98.

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spockvr6

(Walt @ Sep. 08 2006,23:27)

QUOTE
When I moved permanently to Florida (Highlands County) in Dec. of '97, we were under the El Nino weather pattern. While we got lots of winter rain (and some tornados) and maybe cooler average temperatures, I don't think it dropped below 40 degrees for lows all winter long. It was the only winter since moving here I don't recall seeing frost. I would relish a repeat of that winter for this upcoming winter.

Walt-

I just checked the data for around here for that El Nino winter and it looked fantastic! Ignoring any other outside effects, I would certainly also relish such low temps for the coming year.

TAMPA AP - Lowest Temps Each Month

December 1997 - 41F

January 1998 - 39F

February 1998 - 45F

CLEARWATER AP - Lowest Temps Each Month

December 1997 - 42F

January 1998 - 41F

February 1998 - 46F

ALBERT WHITTED AP - Lowest Temps Each Month

December 1997 - 46F

January 1998 - 42F

February 1998 - 50F

This was essentially a Zone 11 winter!

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Walt

Larry: Like I said, my wife and I moved to Highlands County around December 4th, 1997.  We lived about half way between Avon Park and Sebring, one block from a large lake, and at somewhat higher elevation than where I now live. Frankly, I never saw my thermometer lower than around 42-43 F that winter. I think Christmas day our high was around 85 F!

Well, I guess I figured all winters were going to be like that one, but I soon found out to the contrary! Boy, did I find out to the contrary Jan. 5, 2001 (a day that will live in infamy)!

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spockvr6

(Walt @ Sep. 11 2006,09:42)

QUOTE
Larry: Like I said, my wife and I moved to Highlands County around December 4th, 1997.  We lived about half way between Avon Park and Sebring, one block from a large lake, and at somewhat higher elevation than where I now live. Frankly, I never saw my thermometer lower than around 42-43 F that winter. I think Christmas day our high was around 85 F!

Well, I guess I figured all winters were going to be like that one, but I soon found out to the contrary! Boy, did I find out to the contrary Jan. 5, 2001 (a day that will live in infamy)!

Walt-

I was wondering about that......your first FL winter probably set the stage so to speak with regard to your expectations.  

I remember when I first moved up here from South FL.  When those cold fronts came through I certainly noticed a difference  :D    The most noticable thing was actually the colder daytime highs when the bad fronts came through.  Things just dont warm up as quickly or as much as they did further south.

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SubTropicRay

Larry,

Don't forget 2002/2003 winter was El Nino and Tampa's airport bottomed out at an advective 27F on Jan 24.  The kicker was Albert Whitted at 29F.

Ray

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spockvr6

(Ray, Tampa @ Sep. 11 2006,16:31)

QUOTE
Larry,

Don't forget 2002/2003 winter was El Nino and Tampa's airport bottomed out at an advective 27F on Jan 24.  The kicker was Albert Whitted at 29F.

Ray

C'mon Ray!

I was enjoying my dream world for just a bit......LOL.

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bgl

Interestingly, 2003 was also the driest year during the time I've been here on the Big Island. A total of 100.60 inches for the entire 12 months. And an average year is right around 150 inches. For the first 3 months of that year, we had exactly 13 inches. Not as dry as in 1998, but still very dry. 13 inches is normally what we get in a typical month.

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Walt

Larry and Ray: I recorded 29.5F that day and my friend on the east side of Lake Clay recorded 31F. Hence, that's why (I told you this, Larry), I will take an advective freeze over radiational anyday. It's the radiational cooling here that hurts me, far more than advective, less an '89 type event, of course.

It's almost uncanny that Albert Whitted can run 15-20 degrees higher than my place on the worst radiational cooling nights, but the same on advective nights. I guess it's another testament to water and urban heat island combined.

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spockvr6

(Walt @ Sep. 11 2006,17:47)

QUOTE
It's almost uncanny that Albert Whitted can run 15-20 degrees higher than my place on the worst radiational cooling nights, but the same on advective nights. I guess it's another testament to water and urban heat island combined.

Walt-

Ive come to the further conclusion that, if one cant have latitude in their favor, its best to have water not only in their immediate vicinity, but to their north.  

Looking at a map, one can see the advantageous position of the Albert Whitted station.  On radiational nights, it seems as though it would be almost impossible to freeze there.  On windy nights, that terrible north wind still has to travel over water before reaching the recording station.  Granted, if the winds are fast enough there wont be much time for the air to warm, but a few degrees is better than nothing!

If one carefully notes whats growing in the areas at the top of Tampa Bay (in such places as Oldsmar,) it is nowhere near as tropical in nature as what is but a few miles to the south.  On windy freezes, the areas to the north of the Bay do not get any assistance from the nearby water.  Nor does my location or anywhere in he central part of Pinellas.  These areas also do not show widespread sightings of aged tropicals...so there is a correlation here :D

Its more or less the bad advective fronts that wipe things out in this area.

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Walt

Larry: The advective event of Jan. 24th 2003 caused virtually no damage to my palms. I think all the trees around me helped knock the wind down some, plus the duration was short.

In fact, one the top 1/3 of my talles traveler's palm leaf got fried, and this, I believe was from wind dessication.

But here's the kicker: the trunked traveler's palm up on the hill close to town got all it's leaves fried from wind dessiction (and others I saw). Yet, my traveler's only had that one leaf (upper third) damaged.

But moreover, that same trunked traveler's palm had no leaf damage at all on Jan. 5, 2001 when my yard dropped to 22 degrees (and Archbold Bio. Sta. dropped to 13 degrees) and my large white bird of paradise was fried (a radiational cooling freeze)!

Again, I will take a 28-30 degree advective freeze anyday over a frost laden 28-30 degree radiational freeze.

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JakeK

Though bad for some areas, both El Nino and La Nina winters are generally good for my area, Cincinnati.

In El Nino winters the area is generally much wetter and milder with significant snowfalls, maybe around 20 inches for the winter.

In La Nina winters the area is actually warmer than during the El Nino winter, but receives significantly less moisture and snowfall.

It is during the regular winters that my area can be hit with severe cold.

Jake

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SubTropicRay

Walt,

You are south of my area which is good for the windy freezes.  Inland is worse in the radiational freezes.

Ray

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Walt

Ray:  

It's almost amazing how cold it can get inland away from water during some radiational cooling events. Archbold Biological Station's all-time low of 13 degrees F (recorded during a radiational freeze event) is testament to that.

Immokalee recorded 30.8 F on Jan. 24, 2003; while it normally runs colder there on radiational cooling nights than Tampa, much farther north, but with the benefit of water and urban heat island.

I've seen interior Dade, Broward, Monroe, and Collier counties reading 26 F (several winters ago) while Orlando was in the mid 30s during  radiational cooling mornings. This went on for several days and I would check it at NWS Melbourn, Fla. graphic.

While I would rather have a high 20s advective freeze over a high 20s radiational freeze (always accompanied by frost), invariably the second night of the decending cold front is a radiatinal cooling night. So even if I escape the first night, which is windy, I usually get hammered the second night, when the winds seem to always peter out just after sundown. However, I don't recall this happening with the Jan. 24, 2003 event. I guess I got lucky that time.

Another thing out my way is the range of temperature readings during a radiational cooling night. I've seen temperature readings range 20 degrees from the coldest (low and dry areas) spots to the highest areas around lakes. Out here on the Lake Wales Ridge the inversion air layer is very prominent during radiational cooling events. I only found that out by living here.

Last winter at the FAWN Belle Glade station, they recorded a 14 degree F difference between 2 feet and 30 feet above grade on radiational cooling night.

Walt

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SoLando

(Walt @ Sep. 12 2006,15:31)

QUOTE
I've seen interior Dade, Broward, Monroe, and Collier counties reading 26 F (several winters ago) while Orlando was in the mid 30s during  radiational cooling mornings. This went on for several days and I would check it at NWS Melbourn, Fla. graphic.

Why would Orlando be warmer than a hundred miles south of there? Especially by about 10 degrees? Would that be the urban heat island effect? ...Haha, sorry I am so new at this stuff. But, I am slowly learning! ;)

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Walt

Where the 26 degree temperature readings were in the southern most counties were in uninhababtive locations (no heat island effect). There seemed to be a large pocket where the low temperatures were taken. No doubt Orlando has a heat island effect, like just about any town.

Even the three small towns here in Highlands County are warmer than the outlying areas (at least on windless nights). Part of that is heat island and part elevation as the three towns are on the Lake Wales Ridge, and the air at night is warmer do to what is called a temperature inversion layer. Do a Google search if your really interested in understanding the physics at play here.

Conversely, during an advective (windy freeze) Orlando would be colder than those more southern locations, both night and day.

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SubTropicRay

Jen,

On occasion a couple of days after frontal passage, the high pressure ridge shifts south of central Florida and over the southern tip of the state.  When this happens, the winds around the high (central Florida) shift out of the west bringing in the relatively warm Gulf air.  Meanwhile, winds over the southern third of the state go completely calm. This is not the norm but does happen a few times each winter.

Ray

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SoLando

Thanks! I'm getting so educated on this stuff now. I'm ready for the winter learning experience (not the cold......).

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SunnyFl

The climatology is so interesting - thanks for your explanation, Ray.  And also from Walt and Larry.

I always find out new things here, there's so much to learn!  I like reading the individual obs. and all the details, that can vary a lot even within one county.

Interesting about the different effects you get, going from 2' elevation to 30'.  I think that may be why we very seldom get frost - our 44' helps a lot.

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SunnyFl

I have some bad news.  The El Niño may be more than weak - it could be a "moderate" one.  I think it will be - look at how these last few tropical systems have nicely recurved out to sea - yet a hurricane in the EPAC reached cat5.  This, in addition to our increased rain - hm, might this be indicative?

(Ray @ Tampa,Sep. 11 2006,16:31)

QUOTE
Larry,

Don't forget 2002/2003 winter was El Nino and Tampa's airport bottomed out at an advective 27F on Jan 24.  

I remember that advective incident, almost not wanting to look outside that morning but going out to check the thermom in the dark.  Ugh, that was COLD.

The kicker was Albert Whitted at 29F.

Ray

Seriously??  Wow, we were only 1.5F lower than that!

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spockvr6

(SunnyFl @ Sep. 13 2006,21:33)

QUOTE
Seriously??  Wow, we were only 1.5F lower than that!

Winds Sunny!

They are the great equalizer......Elevation and even water proximity dont matter quite as much anymore.

On radiational nights, your area is probably about 10F colder than Albert Whitted.  On 2/14/06, my yard was 12F colder than Albert Whitted (34F vs 46F)!

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spockvr6

(SunnyFl @ Sep. 13 2006,21:14)

QUOTE
Interesting about the different effects you get, going from 2' elevation to 30'.  I think that may be why we very seldom get frost - our 44' helps a lot.

On some radiational nights this winter, take a peek at the FAWN stations (and their readings at various heights) and youll be able to see how the air stratifies.  Its sometimes quite impressive (and sometimes less than one would expect).  But, in general, higher = better all else equal.

In Pinellas, I believe that the Gulf/Bay have a far greater influence on temp than elevation does (but every little bit helps).  My lot sits at 23 ft, but the elevation drops off quickly right down to just about sea level within a few hundred feet heading west down the road leading to Alt 19.  On a few radiational nights last winter I actually made some temp measurements with a thermocouple and the temp did drop as I headed down in elevation.  But, from 23 ft to roughly sea level, the temp only dropped 0.7-0.8F.  

However, that same night I also drove out to the Gulf near Fred Howard Park.  This is also obviously at sea level.  The temp was a whopping 10F warmer than at 23 ft elevation in my yard 1.5 miles inland!  I expected an increase, but this was an eye opener.  And quite frankly.....very disturbing!

Ever since then, I no longer doubt the effects of large bodies of water in determining climate around here.  Where you are in Pinellas, even though you are not directly near the water, you have water on both sides (Gulf and Bay) which absolutely makes a notable difference.

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spockvr6

(SunnyFl @ Sep. 13 2006,21:33)

QUOTE
I have some bad news.  The El Niño may be more than weak - it could be a "moderate" one.  I think it will be - look at how these last few tropical systems have nicely recurved out to sea - yet a hurricane in the EPAC reached cat5.  This, in addition to our increased rain - hm, might this be indicative?

If this El Nino means no cold snaps this winter....you probably wont find me complaining.

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Walt

Sunnyfl: I found out that my county wasn't a thermally monolithic (same all over). Not by a long shot, during radiational cooling events.

Down here on the Lake Wales Ridge the sandy soils tend to be much drier than most of peninsular Florida. The sand is course and very well drained. Dry sand doesn't hold near as much heat, either, so on winter radiational cooling nights what heat the soil has is quickly lost up into the atmosphere.

So low, sandy areas usually run the coldest on radiational cooling nights. Higher elevation areas, can run 10 degrees warmer easily vis-a-vis the low areas. And around the water (lakes) it probably runs the warmest.

I said this earlier, but this past Feb. 14th the FAWN weather station at Belle Glade had a 14 degree spread in temperature between 2 feet and 30 feet. That would basically average one degree rise per two feet of elevation. And that is why my pothos vines and ficus trees growing more than 15 feet above grade (the ground) weren't defoliated. Anything lower than that were hurt.

The below photo is a typical FAWN weather station. This one is located just south of Sebring, Florida, in the boondocks. The tower is 30 feet in height. So look at it and imagine how the air temperature changed so greatly over the height of the tower.

532603481sdjKsv_th.jpg

by waltcat100

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SunnyFl

(Walt @ Sep. 13 2006,22:16)

QUOTE
Higher elevation areas, can run 10 degrees warmer easily vis-a-vis the low areas. And around the water (lakes) it probably runs the warmest.

I said this earlier, but this past Feb. 14th the FAWN weather station at Belle Glade had a 14 degree spread in temperature between 2 feet and 30 feet. That would basically average one degree rise per two feet of elevation. And that is why my pothos vines and ficus trees growing more than 15 feet above grade (the ground) weren't defoliated. Anything lower than that were hurt.

That's very interesting.  And what you said about the higher elevation was surely the case here in the infamous '89 freeze.  That one was so bad the power company ran out of juice - had to do "rolling blackouts."  Brrrr.

We had two homes, the old one in Pinellas Park, the new one 20 min. away (higher elevation).  New Place wasn't ready to move into.  

Someone asked - and I can't find the post - if I recalled the exact temps involved.  At our old place where we were staying, if memory serves, think it got down to about 21-23F.  My hibiscuses died down to the ground (regrew that spring).  Allamanda was fried.  Shefflera next to house had bad damage.  A lot of freeze damage around.

I don't know what the temp was at the New Place.  But there, the pothos - which grew high into an oak - survived, like yours.  Allamanda survived, shefflera (another one next to the house) was okay.  Ginger, banana clump and philodendron out back survived.

Big difference and the reason had to be the elevation.

Btw, do you remember if the '89 freeze was advective or radiational?

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spockvr6

(SunnyFl @ Sep. 14 2006,06:52)

QUOTE
Btw, do you remember if the '89 freeze was advective or radiational?

Windy! Windy Windy!

Thus, it seems likely that elevation didnt make much difference.

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Walt

Suunyfl: Larry is absolutely right. Elevation is not effective during advective events, only during radiational cooling events.

During radiational cooling events, the warm air from low areas flows upward to the higher elevational areas, while the colder air (from the higher elevation areas) sinks/flows down to lower areas. For this to happen there can't be wind, or at least very little wind.

In advective (windy) events all the air is blended and mixed, so higher elevational areas are no better off than lower areas. In fact, higher elevation areas could actually be hit harder if they are more exposed to the direct wind. The cold, dry wind will descicate (dry out) tender plants/palms fast.

This happened here last on Jan. 24, 2003. That night/morning was very windy with cold air ripping through. Tender vegetation in the higher elevations got dessicated (traveler's palms come to mind) but the same plants down in the more protected lower areas incurred much less dessication.

Also, elevational changes are much more pronounced out here on the Lake Wales Ridge. It's not like the ridge is a continuous plateau, it is hilly with many peaks and valleys. Hence, small plateau areas are very well drained during radiational cooling nights, draining into the valleys below. But these small areas are very exposed on windy nights.

So in summation, water and urban heat island, IMO, are the two prime positive factors for your mild nighttime temeratures, not elevation. Not to say elevation isn't a factor, but at 41 feet above sea level, the surrounding area near you would have to slope off relatively fast to give you any kind of temperature inversion layer.

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SubTropicRay

The freeze events of 1989, 1985 and 1983 all started with windy nights.

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SunnyFl

Thanks Larry & Ray - I really couldn't recall if it was a windy event or not (an age/memory thing - hah).  All I remember was that it was stinkin' COLD.

Walt, you wrote:

In advective (windy) events all the air is blended and mixed, so higher elevational areas are no better off than lower areas. In fact, higher elevation areas could actually be hit harder if they are more exposed to the direct wind. The cold, dry wind will descicate (dry out) tender plants/palms fast.

Maybe what protected this lot during the advective '89 blast was the sheer amount of vegetation here.  I mean it was horridly overgrown.  Could the dense (and tall) growth have protected the plants from the dessicating cold?  Most of it wasn't shade, it was a more vertical mess, but I guess it might have formed a barrier of sorts, does that make sense?  Because the stuff here fared way better than at our old place.

If that works - using taller plants as a wind-screen - maybe I should re-think my plans for the yard.  Long ago, I cleared all that horrid brush out of here (it was quite gross) and the yard is now open to the wind.  Hm.

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