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_Keith

Looking Back at the Great US Freezes

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_Keith

So, its winter and some are nervous. Well, you should be, always. Here are some historical references.

From: http://www.raingardens.com/psst/articles/artic03.htm

by Richard Travis

San Antonio, Texas

A History of Severe Freezes in the Lower Rio Grande Valley -- Part III

by Richard Travis

San Antonio, Texas

(This is the last in a 3-part series on a history of hard freezes in the Lower Valley. This part covers the two severe freezes in the 1980's, with a comparison of the severity of these two freezes versus previous freezes in the Valley.)

After 1962, it would be 22 seasons until the next severe freeze. The seventies saw a number of cool to cold winters, but none of these produced any really serious threats to the Valley. The eighties would not be as kind. In January 1982, the strongest cold wave since the early 1960's blew through Texas. This front moved quickly, however, and the Valley was pretty much spared, with temperatures no lower than the mid- to upper-twenties. But nearly two years later the Valley would not be so lucky.

December 1983: The first bad freeze of the decade arrived in Brownsville on Christmas Eve 1983. Very cold weather had been entrenched in Texas for over a week when the big blow hit -- North Texas had experienced day after day of subfreezing weather, which each front colder than the previous. The low latitude of far South Texas had protected the area from the first few fronts, but on the 24th a severely cold air mass arrived which spared no area of the state. The temperature that day in Brownsville began sinking from 39° at midnight to 31° at 6:00 a.m. and 25° by noon, with an absolute minimum of 20° the next morning. The following is the temperature data from the 24th to 26th at 6-hour intervals:

Midnight 6:00 a.m. Noon 6:00 p.m.

Dec 24 39° 31° 25° 25°

Dec 25 25° 21° 25° 28°

Dec 26 29° 29° 34°

Most of the Valley was slightly colder -- McAllen recorded 19° and Weslaco had 17°. Though slightly shorter than the outbreaks of 1951 and 1962, this freeze brought a much longer sustained duration of temperature in the mid-twenties or below. Such a prolonged period of deep-freezing weather had not been seen in Brownsville since the previous century. It particularly resembled the cold outbreaks of 1852, 1873, and 1888.

This freeze may forever be known as the freeze that killed the palm trees in the Valley. Anyone who lived in the Valley before 1983 remembers well the thousands of tall slender Washingtonia robusta lining the local roads for mile after mile. The dead stumps were a sad sight on the Valley skyline for several years afterwards -- some still remain to this day. Citrus also received a good beating, the worst since 1951. The Valley got such a cleaning from 1983 it would almost make the worst freeze of the century seem anticlimactic.

December 1989: Being used to decades of reasonably mild winters, many locals had dismissed 1983 as a real fluke, a once-in-a-century aberration. But six years later, almost to the day after the 1983 freeze, the real "100-year freeze" arrived at the Valley's doorstep. In severity this one took a back seat only to 1899. The 1989 outbreak, in fact, resembled the 1899 freeze in many ways. It was a fast moving, very powerful outbreak of Arctic air which stretched across most of the United States and deep into Mexico and onto the Florida peninsula. Both produced two nights of very low readings in deepest South Texas. The temperature in Brownsville started out in the forties on the 21st, but soon after midnight on the 22nd, the Arctic air began pouring in. By morning, the temperature was entrenched in the twenties. All day, the thermometer hovered around 27°. Then that night, the worst happened: the skies cleared. This sent readings plummeting from 23° at midnight to 16° the next morning, even with the wind blowing through the night. The 23rd was bright and sunny, but managed to get no warmer than 34°. The next night started out even colder than the previous due to the lack of wind. By midnight, it was already 21° degrees, but fortunately the Arctic high was already moving away and the mercury did not drop more than 3° afterwards. Conditions warmed rapidly the next day. The temperatures from Brownsville again follow:

Midnight 6:00 a.m. Noon 6:00 p.m.

Dec 22 44° 29° 27° 26°

Dec 23 23° 18° 28° 27°

Dec 24 24° 21° 19° 47°

Unlike 1983, the 1989 freeze was slightly colder toward the coast. The minimum temperature in McAllen was only 18°, whereas Weslaco again saw 17°. Nevertheless, this was still the only freeze in the twentieth century to produce two nights of sub-20° readings across all of South Texas.

Since the 1989 freeze, the winters have fortunately seemed to have modified over the 80's. Another hard freeze could certainly occur any time, but it seems that severe freezes are not totally random judging from historical records. There is good evidence that cold winters tend to come in cycles, the most notable example being the late 1800's with the 1980's a more recent instance.

When comparing freezes, the question is inevitably asked as to which freeze(s) were the worst. That, of course, is an often subjective question. The worst freeze for a meteorologist may be entirely different than one for a citrus or palm grower. Even if one were to look at nothing but the data, there is still some room for debate when ranking the freezes. If I were asked to come up with such a list, I would have to take several factors into consideration. Absolute minimum temperatures, number of hours below freezing, number of consecutive hours in a "deep freeze" (mid-twenties or below), and conditions during the coldest temperatures (i.e., wind speed and cloudiness) would all be factors. Using that criteria, there are three or four freezes which really stand out. The Great Arctic Outbreak of 1899 would easily top the list, it simply has no equal. Coming in second would have to be 1989, with the longer (but less cold) freeze of the 1880-1 a pretty close third. After that, the four similar freezes of 1852, 1873, 1888, and 1983 are all contenders for fourth place, with 1888 getting the nod since it apparently had more hours in the low twenties.

For plant people, the list of worst freezes would look completely different. Gone would be the cold waves of the 1800's, there was simply not enough tender vegetation to destroy 100 years ago. The freezes of the 1980's would be near the top, with 1983 getting the higher rank since there was more to kill the first time around. But first place has to go to the relative tepid 1951 freeze. Other than being very long, it did not produce the extended periods in the low- to mid-twenties of stronger freezes. What made this one so bad was its timing. It came after a half-century of mild weather, a period which had seen an explosion of subtropical fruit and ornamental plantings in South Texas. And worse yet, the freeze hit late in the season, during a mild winter, when many plants had already resumed growth. What resulted was the worst botanical slaughter in South Texas history.

There Are Lies...

With a century and a half of weather records, it should be possible to get some statistical idea of the frequency of severe freezes in South Texas. Among all the freezes, there are at least 9 or 10 which could be classified as prolonged hard freezes. For palm trees, this would be a freeze hard enough to kill queen palms, (Syagrus romanzoffianum) or older, weaker Mexican fan palms (Washingtonia robusta). There are surprisingly few freezes which are "borderline" cases in Brownsville -- freezes which are either fairly hard or prolonged but not both. Such examples would include 1850, 1875, 1886, and 1949 (1895 might also belong here -- critical data is missing from that spell). So for 150 years of weather records and 9 or 10 really bad freezes, that would be an average of one ever 15 or 16 years.

A more useful statistic might be the intervals between hard freezes. The first two severe freezes in recorded Valley history came in 1852 and 1873 -- that's an interval of 21 years. Doing some quick and dirty statistical analysis on the numbers, it is found that the interval between the "big ones" has ranged from 4 or 6 years to 52 years. So, while the average time between hard freezes may be 16 to 19 years, the median time between such spells is only 10 or 11 years. The median indicates that, half of the time, the interval between hard freezes has been less than 11 years apart, while the other half of the time the interval has been more than 11 years apart. If you were to exclude that exceptionally cold period between 1880 and 1900 when analyzing the data, the mean and median intervals do not change too dramatically. For example, the average (mean) time between hard freezes increases to 20 years instead of 16 to 19 years while the median time between freezes increases from 11 year to 16 years. A very coarse estimate would be to approximate a median interval of 15 years between the most destructive cold waves, though this time can be highly variable (from a half-decade to a half-century). Predicting when the next big one will arrive is really anybody's guess.

Summary of severe freezes, 1847-1996 (those marked with a "*" indicate a prolonged severe freeze [somewhat subjectively] )

December 6-8, 1850 Min: 22° 2 nights at 22°, afternoon above freezing

January 13-15, 1852 Min: 22° * All day of 13th in mid-twenties

January 1-3(?), 1867 Min: 24° 4" of snow, not enough info on severity

December 23, 1870 Min: 23° Brief radiation freeze

January 28-30, 1873 Min: 22° * Most of the 28th in mid-twenties

January 9-11, 1875 Min: 25° Most of the 9th in mid-twenties, cold January

December 29-January 1, 1880-1 Min: 18° (Weather Bureau); 19° (Ft. Brn) * 31st was very cold with snow, only freeze to produce 3 nights of 20°, probably Brownsville's 3rd worst

January 8-9, 1886 Min: 22° Short but cold, very cold further north (6° in San Antonio)

January 15-17, 1888 Min: 21° * 15th and 16th in twenties, very hard, maybe 4th worst

February 7-8, 1895 Min: 22° Radiation freeze in Brownsville, very hard in rest of state and Florida

February 14-17, 1895 Min: 22° (*?) Famous 5" snow, temperature data incomplete

February 12-14, 1899 Min: 12° * Brutal, Texas' and Brownsville's worst, 200 to 500 year freeze?

February 12-14, 1905 Min: 22° Brief radiation freeze

January 3-4, 1911 Min: 21° Brief radiation freeze

January 30-31, 1949 Min: 23° Worst Freeze since 1899, all 30th below freezing but only 1 hour below 24°

January 29 - February 1, 1951 Min: 22° * Very long, came after long mild spell, killing many plants (especially citrus)

January 9-12, 1962 Min: 19° * Another long freeze, colder west. Less damage to many plants than in 1951

December 24-26, 1983 Min: 20° * Long, all day of the 24th in mid-twenties, old palms along roads killed

December 22-24, 1989 Min: 16° * 2nd worst in Brownsville, 2 very cold nights

This article originally appeared in the Palm Society of South Texas Bulletin and is available on the internet with the author's permission.

Check out the Big Freeze Survivor Palm Seeds exclusively from Digital Raingardens.

The Palm Society of South Texas website is created and hosted by Digital Raingardens - Where the Garden Is Art

[ "Pot Planting" Palms ] [ Part II - Big Freezes ] [ Part III - Big Freezes ] [ Sunsitizing ] [ IPS Biennial Meeting in Thailand ] [ Tour the Lower Rio Grande Valley ] [ Palms with Potential for South Texas ]

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_Keith

From: http://www.joesdiscoweathercentral.com/time/jan3004.htm

January 30, 2004 Time Capsule

Hi everybody and welcome! I hope you are enjoying the wonderful weather we have been having the past week. The pleasantly cool nighttime temperatures and relatively mild days. So far the coldest night this past week was on Friday where the temperature dropped to a chilly 38 degrees at my weather station. I also had a fairly heavy frost. When I left for work on Saturday morning, the temperature had risen to around 40 degrees. By the time I reached Stuart, the temperature was a much milder 47 degrees. This was partly due to the fact that U.S. 1 lies much closer to the ocean then the location of my weather station in Port St. Lucie. The warm ocean waters often keep temperatures near the coast much warmer then temperatures farther inland.

I often have a lot of people asking me about my weather station and what type of equipment I have and about it’s location. Well, to answer the first question, I have two separate weather stations mounted at different locations around the property. One station is a wireless system that uses radio waves to transmit the information to the receiver. All the sensors are solar powered with a backup battery in case of several cloudy days or during a major storm. The anemometer, or wind sensor, is mounted about 30 feet in the air about 15 feet above the roofline. The temperature sensors are mounted about 12 feet above ground level and are protected by thermal radiation shields to be sure of absolute accuracy. The second weather station is a more conventional wired system that also has a battery backup in case of a power outage or in the event of a hurricane. Each weather station has it’s own designated computer to constantly gather information and transform that information into climatologic reports that I use on both my Website and this column. All this information is then backed up on 3 separate external hard drives so that the information remains safe. Currently, I have about 5 years of digital data and another additional 3 years of hand-written data. The weather station is located in Port St. Lucie, nestled between I-95 and Florida’s Turnpike near St. Lucie West.

Now, on to the Time Capsule….

January 31, l966 -- Statewide -- Cold Outbreak. Arctic high pressure behind a strong cold front brought record cold to much of Florida on 30th and 3lst. Record lows were set at dozens of locations, including 11 at Tallahassee, l7 degrees at Gainesville, 22 at Ocala, 24 at Orlando, 29 at St. Petersburg, 8 at Defuniak Springs, 9 at Chipley and Quincy, and 21 at Palatka. This January freeze is exceeded only by the great freeze of l977 in extent and intensity.

February 3-4, 1917 -- statewide -- Severe Freeze with low temperatures of 15 degrees reported at Tallahassee, 17 at Gainesville, 18 at Ocala, and 22 at Orlando.

February 4-5, 1958 -- Statewide -- Cold Outbreak -- Arctic high pressure behind a strong cold front brought record cold too much of Florida. Freezing temperatures spread to south Florida. Lows reach 27 at Homestead, 28 at Belle Glade, 31 at Fort Lauderdale and 33 at Hialeah. Snow fell in Tallahassee.

February 7-10, 1835 -- The earliest well-documented severe freeze. Low temperature of 4 degrees was reported at Tallahassee, 8 degrees at Jacksonville and Pensacola. The edges of the St. Johns River froze and ice was reported in Pensacola Bay. The temperature was below freezing for over two days at St. Augustine. All citrus was killed.

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gsn

Keith,

Thanks ever so much, nothing like in your face reality!!!!! :unsure::blink:

I'm sure most of us could have lived contentedly in IGNORANT bliss,without this information! :winkie:

Do you have stock in SUICIDE hotlines? :lol:

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_Keith

From: http://www.flcitrusmutual.com/industry-iss...e_timeline.aspx

Timeline of Florida Freezes

1835

The *impact freeze that occurred on February 2-9 brought the lowest temperatures that had ever been recorded in north and central Florida. This freeze is considered an *impact freeze because it ended attempts to commercially grow citrus in South Georgia, southeast South Carolina and in the northern part of Florida.

1894-1895

The close proximity of the freezes of 1894 and 1895 created an *impact freeze situation that devastated citrus growers and rearranged the geography of the Florida citrus industry. The first freeze occurred on December 29-30, 1894. Immediately after, Florida experienced a month of warm weather, which made citrus more vulnerable for the second freeze on February 8-9, 1895.

1899

The freeze on February 13-14 was one of the most severe in the history of the state and was a *near-impact freeze. This freeze was unfortunate because it wiped out all of the hard work of growers since the freeze of 1895.

1917

This freeze occurred on February 2-6 and was the most serious freeze between 1899 and 1934.

1934

This freeze hit Florida on December 12-13. It was so severe that it led to the creation of the Federal-State Frost Warning Service.

1940

January of 1940 is the coldest month on record in Florida history, with a mean temperature of 49.7 degrees Fahrenheit. The freeze occurred at the end of the month on January 27-29, delivering the coldest temperatures growers had seen since 1899. Fortunately, the Frost Warning Service predicted this freeze well in advance.

1957

The 1957 freeze occurred near the end of the year on December 12-13 and was the most severe to hit the state since 1940.

1962

This freeze hit exactly five years (to the day) after the freeze of 1957. The freezing temperatures arrived in Florida on December 12-13, creating the third *impact freeze in the state of Florida. It was considered an *impact freeze because it caused the most damage to trees and fruit of any other 20th century freeze to date.

1977

This freeze occurred on January 18-20 and is comparable to the 1962 freeze. This freeze created the rare conditions in Florida for snow to stick to the ground. The freeze of 1977 also reinforced and accelerated grower movement south.

1981

Hard freezing temperatures arrived in Florida on January 12-14. This freeze was comparable to the freeze of 1977.

1983

This freeze was more severe than the 1977 and 1981 freezes. It occurred on December 24-25 and was so detrimental because the Frost Warning Service missed the forecast. By the time growers knew about the freeze, much of the damage was already done.

1985

The freeze of 1985 occurred on January 20-22. It was a hard freeze; however, its effects were felt so severely because growers had not yet recovered from the 1983 freeze. The combined effects of the freezes of 1983 and 1985 added up to an *impact freeze situation.

1989

This freeze occurred on December 22-26. This freeze was the fifth *impact freeze recorded in Florida history, however it was the second *impact freeze in a single decade, leaving growers little time to recover after the freezes of 1983 and 1985.

*Impact Freeze: a freeze so severe that it annihilates entire groves across the state, killing both mature and young citrus trees, while causing a profound economic impact on the citrus industry and usually prompting growers to replant farther south.

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bubba

Keith,Interesting topic.The Florida freezes are hard to take but those Texas things were insane.That was all the way down into the RGV.(ie latitude 26 N)

Florida is a big state also.For the West Palm Beach Airport, the Dec.22-26,1989 event recorded as follows:

!2/22/89-71/57

12/23/89-61/34

12/24/89-41/28

12/25/89-54/28

12/26/89-63/36

This freeze was the coldest recorded since the freeze of 1899.(coldest ever)Because Bastardi has indicated that 2008 will undoubtedly be the bookend to the 1989 freeze(such a bold prediction/are advertising revenues down ,Joe),I thought it would be interesting to see the temperatures recorded at the West Palm Beach Airport(Icehouse)on Nov. 17-19,1989 to attempt to read trends.Well,this is what it was:

11/17/89-75/50

11/18/89-77/55

11/19/89-79/69

Bastardi is obviously correct in his assessment that 2008 will be the bookend to 1989.In fact,it appears that 2008 will most probably be the coldest winter ever experienced in Florida.Specifically,the 1989 temperatures for the respective dates were substantially warmer than those experienced in 2008.Paradoxically,there can be no question that Winter 2008 in Florida will be a record breaker of unknown and incomparable proportions.No more Coconuts, ficus or other palm trees.Well maybe a Sable or two will make it in Palm Beach County.

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SunnyFl

Thank you, Keith - that was very interesting! I remember the freezes of '83, '85 & '89. The memorable part of the '89 freeze was the electric company running out of power and resorting to "rolling blackouts" on a frigid Christmas Eve. That hadn't happened before.

I have no idea what the exact temps were at our current house which we had bought a few months before, but weren't living in. At our place in Pinellas Park, 15 minutes away, my tropicals (except one unprotected Allamanda) all died. Pure mush. At our current home, a few things survived (all unprotected): a huge neglected clump of bananas, some kind of costus that was growing wild all over the back yard, a huge shefflera umbrella tree, and pothos (epipremnum) climbing the oak.

There was one freeze back in the 60s that a couple of long-time residents still talk about. It might be the 1962 freeze. There's a nursery owner who swears it got down to 17F right here in Lealman, and probably colder in Pinellas Park.

We missed the freeze of '77 in FL - because we were, for 2 miserable years, trying to survive Up North (didn't work), just in time for a reord-breaking hellacious winter up there. We did hear that in '77, even some parts of the Tampa Bay area had a light snow that stuck. Sure hope that isn't true. but. hm.

So from what you've written, it seems that infrequent but periodic freezes are the norm, and probably won't go away any time soon. Will this be the year when we experience another...

(and an OT note: Keith, I visited your website and spent quite a bit of time there - very enjoyable, would love to ask you about some of the photos.)

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_Keith
Keith,Interesting topic.The Florida freezes are hard to take but those Texas things were insane.That was all the way down into the RGV.(ie latitude 26 N)

Florida is a big state also.For the West Palm Beach Airport, the Dec.22-26,1989 event recorded as follows:

!2/22/89-71/57

12/23/89-61/34

12/24/89-41/28

12/25/89-54/28

12/26/89-63/36

This freeze was the coldest recorded since the freeze of 1899.(coldest ever)Because Bastardi has indicated that 2008 will undoubtedly be the bookend to the 1989 freeze(such a bold prediction/are advertising revenues down ,Joe),I thought it would be interesting to see the temperatures recorded at the West Palm Beach Airport(Icehouse)on Nov. 17-19,1989 to attempt to read trends.Well,this is what it was:

11/17/89-75/50

11/18/89-77/55

11/19/89-79/69

Bastardi is obviously correct in his assessment that 2008 will be the bookend to 1989.In fact,it appears that 2008 will most probably be the coldest winter ever experienced in Florida.Specifically,the 1989 temperatures for the respective dates were substantially warmer than those experienced in 2008.Paradoxically,there can be no question that Winter 2008 in Florida will be a record breaker of unknown and incomparable proportions.No more Coconuts, ficus or other palm trees.Well maybe a Sable or two will make it in Palm Beach County.

Well, my point is by all averages, we are overdue for another big one. And Louisiana being in the central gulf coast is sometimes the most insane of all. Here at my Zone 9a (9b for the last decade) we reached down to 9 degrees the first night, and 12 degrees the second night in that 1989 freeze. Everytime I plant a palm I remind myself of this inevitability so that I balance my plantings.

BTW - A big part of my day job is disaster management, so while I am alway optimistic, the rule of my day can never be denial, but is always mitigation.

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_Keith
Thank you, Keith - that was very interesting! I remember the freezes of '83, '85 & '89. The memorable part of the '89 freeze was the electric company running out of power and resorting to "rolling blackouts" on a frigid Christmas Eve. That hadn't happened before.

I have no idea what the exact temps were at our current house which we had bought a few months before, but weren't living in. At our place in Pinellas Park, 15 minutes away, my tropicals (except one unprotected Allamanda) all died. Pure mush. At our current home, a few things survived (all unprotected): a huge neglected clump of bananas, some kind of costus that was growing wild all over the back yard, a huge shefflera umbrella tree, and pothos (epipremnum) climbing the oak.

There was one freeze back in the 60s that a couple of long-time residents still talk about. It might be the 1962 freeze. There's a nursery owner who swears it got down to 17F right here in Lealman, and probably colder in Pinellas Park.

We missed the freeze of '77 in FL - because we were, for 2 miserable years, trying to survive Up North (didn't work), just in time for a reord-breaking hellacious winter up there. We did hear that in '77, even some parts of the Tampa Bay area had a light snow that stuck. Sure hope that isn't true. but. hm.

So from what you've written, it seems that infrequent but periodic freezes are the norm, and probably won't go away any time soon. Will this be the year when we experience another...

(and an OT note: Keith, I visited your website and spent quite a bit of time there - very enjoyable, would love to ask you about some of the photos.)

My website is a simple man's continuing education of learning to garden. Ask away, either here or via PM. All inquiries are welcome.

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SubTropicRay

Tonight I comparing temps thus far this fall with that of 1957/1958 fall/winter. Someone on Accuweather mentioned a comparison between this year and that winter. The resemblance and timing of the fronts then and now is amazing. That winter ended 2+ decades free of any devastating Florida freezes. How did it all start? With a nice cool November riddled with below normal temps. Back to the wine....

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_Keith
Tonight I comparing temps thus far this fall with that of 1957/1958 fall/winter. Someone on Accuweather mentioned a comparison between this year and that winter. The resemblance and timing of the fronts then and now is amazing. That winter ended 2+ decades free of any devastating Florida freezes. How did it all start? With a nice cool November riddled with below normal temps. Back to the wine....

Well, Ray. Here in Cajun French Louisiana we have a saying. C'est la vie. Then we don't look back. Our joi de vive will not let us. If it get cold for a decade or two, we'll grow conifers and apples, and moan when once again, the heat takes them away and tempts us to plant palms and citrus once again.

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BobbyinNY

here in New York I still have my trachycarpus in the ground (unprotected as yet) and it's growing like crazy... Right now it's 34f and dropping.. all the way down to 29f tonight.

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amazondk

I was going to spend a cold Christmas in Montana and enjoy the freezing weather. But, do to some unforseen circumstances that will not happen and the furthest north I will get in December will be the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. Maybe next year. I do remember the cold weather in the 80's in South Florida well. I had one of those little kerosene heaters to take the edge off of the cold in my house.

dk

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bubba

Keith, My rant had nothing to do whatsoever with your outstanding topic.It had everything to do with foolish assumptions made by bobbling heads to scare up advertising revenue at the expense of truth.Who knows? 2008 may be the coldest winter ever in the State of Florida but I seriously doubt it has much to do with Bastardi's sylogism.

If you want to use Data for those kind of conclusions,it is hard to overlook the comparison between 1893,1895 and the 1899 freeze as contrasted to the 1983,1985 and 1989 freeze.That tells me 2063,2065 and 2069 may be bad dudes.Some how I am not too worried about that.I will leave that one to Bastardi's grandson!

By the way,I lived through the 1980 freezes in South Florida with no problem and do not recall any major loss of foliage.I even remember playing golf with my dad the day before the freeze in 1989 and it was quite pleasant.I also remember the beautiful sight of snow in G-ville in 1977 while I was matriculating.A thing of Beauty!

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SubTropicRay

The 1977 snow also brought light flurries to Miami Beach.

Bubba, playing golf is very pleasant. The 1989 freeze was not. Contrary to what you remember, the 1989 freeze damaged a ton of foliage and killed many plants in south Florida. Back in 1989, my aunt and uncle lived in the Sweetwater section of Miami. I remember how upset my aunt was when we visited for Christmas because her prized Royals were nearly completely defoliated. She actually thought they were dead.

Regardless of what comes this winter, we'll be here and will deal with it.

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bubba

Plenty of 60-100 year trees in this area that made it through 1989 with no problem.I am not saying that no damage was sustained in South Florida but two nights of 28 F lows is not enough to create nuclear winter.And it did not.48 to 72 hours straight below freezing as experienced in the RGV,that creates a nuclear winter.That is a difference.

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SubTropicRay

Bubba,

In 1989, the late John Bishock recorded 26F in his old yard near Fairchild. He frequently used the word "carnage" to describe what happened and always spoke of the lingering stench caused by rotting vegetation. Two nights at 28F and 10-12 total hours below freezing in an area that seldom sees temps below 40F would be quite devatating. It changed the landscape in an area that like today, seems impervious.

Ray

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bubba

Ray,I am certain Mr.Bishock was testing the edge of the edges.I need to do more research but I can show you numerous Coconuts,Ficus and many other tropical plants and Palms that survived 1989 in Palm Beach.It may be our nearness to the Gulfstream due to our very Eastern location in the State of Florida.

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syersj
Plenty of 60-100 year trees in this area that made it through 1989 with no problem.I am not saying that no damage was sustained in South Florida but two nights of 28 F lows is not enough to create nuclear winter.And it did not.48 to 72 hours straight below freezing as experienced in the RGV,that creates a nuclear winter.That is a difference.

I may be splitting hairs, but the RGV was not below freezing for 48 to 72 hours in 1989. More like 24 or so, maybe less. The temp did get slightly above freezing on 23 Dec, but the above recorded temps are at 6 hour intervals, not the high temperatures. That said, it was obviously brutally cold.

The article states many palms were killed...I have been to the valley recently and there are literally millions and millions of Washingtonia Robustas around. I can't imagine how palmy it was before. This is one of, if not the palmiest area in the continental US bar none by sheer numbers of palms. I am going to state right here there are as many or more washingtonia per sq. mile that in the RGV than southern Cal.

Lesson # 1 for people is to plant palms suited for your zone and area. Otherwise they WILL be killed. Look around and see what is mature and plant that. Realize that you are not the first person to try to push a zone and think you will get away with it. Sorry to say, someone else has already tried and failed, guaranteed. If you don't see it growing, THERE IS A REASON.

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syersj

Read this article and weep. It will happen again. The 1899 freeze...subzero temps all the way down to the gulf coast. That's sub-ZERO, not sub freezing.

http://ams.allenpress.com/archive/1520-043...434-3-4-305.pdf

Atlanta -9F

New Orleans 7F

Mobile -1F

Tallahassee -2F

Jacksonville 10F

Ft Myers FL recorded snowfall. parts of Northern FL received several inches.

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epicure3

Maybe we could just ask Hank Paulson for an advance bailout from any future freeze. I'd be in.

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SubTropicRay

I forgot why we got into this debate. All I'm saying is south Florida is not impervious to devastating freezes. Some stuff survives and some things do not.

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_Keith
I forgot why we got into this debate. All I'm saying is south Florida is not impervious to devastating freezes. Some stuff survives and some things do not.

I think you hit it Ray. Sure some things survive, but how much does not. As an example, I can find some 89 survivor CIDP around here, but I have to think they are the exceptioin and not the rule for CIDP survival here during that freeze

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SunnyFl
I forgot why we got into this debate. All I'm saying is south Florida is not impervious to devastating freezes. Some stuff survives and some things do not.

I think you hit it Ray. Sure some things survive, but how much does not. As an example, I can find some 89 survivor CIDP around here, but I have to think they are the exceptioin and not the rule for CIDP survival here during that freeze

I have to agree. According to David Witt's hardiness study, there was a coconut growing out on Clearwater Beach that survived the 1989 freeze. But doubtful that many other tropicals did.

Syersj said,

Lesson # 1 for people is to plant palms suited for your zone and area. Otherwise they WILL be killed. Look around and see what is mature and plant that.
Yeah, that's true. But do you really want to eschew plants you love because - just maybe - there might be a once-in-thirty-years freeze? I'm remembering something RLR wrote - I believe it was in ECP - about how enjoying a few years with one of these beauties (coconut palms) was worth the risk of it succumbing eventually.

And even if you meticulously plant according to your zone, there's no guarantee your conditions won't change. Or that something else won't happen, like a bolt from the blue. Like what Andrew did to Fairchild.

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Dave-Vero

Florida's tropical native woody plants suffer from freezes. In 1989, gumbo limbo trees growing in the open in Cocoa Beach died; they might have survived in the shelter of the native beach forest (hammock). On Merritt Island's South Tropical Trail below Pineda, the big old gumbo-limbos show signs of past freeze damage.

I recall visiting Fairchild not long after the 1989 freeze. It looked fine. Andrew was far worse Apart from greenhouses, Fairchild's facilities survived pretty well. The research building needed a new roof, but the library and herbarium were safe. Matheson Hammock adjoining Fairchild was relatively intact after the storm. Hammocks farther south were damaged much worse. One was nearly flattened. So Fairchild and Montgomery could have fared much worse.

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bubba

In Palm Beach, if there was a loss in vegetation after the 1989 freeze it was minimal at best.Once again,WPB airport reported lows of 28 f for two consecutive days.There appears to be rather broad differences in temperature between those experienced at the WPB Airport and the island.

Very cold sensitive tropical items like Coconuts,Banyans,Gumbo Limbos,Mangoes,Royal Poicianna,Mahogany,Sapodilla,Tamarind and even Papayas made it through unscathed.

At the same time,I know that 1989 freeze killed the Mangroves in Daytona Beach.That is serious cold and shows how a relatively short distance in Florida can have greatly different temperatures,especially in Historic Freezes.

As a further matter of history,the Southward development of the State could be attributable to the 1899 Freeze. Julia Tuttle,of Miami fame, delivered to Henry Flagler Orange Blossums and other unscathed vegetation while he was at St. Augustine,Fl and based partially on this gesture he decided to extend his train system to Miami.

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_Keith

Actually Bubba, you appear to be right about 1989 in your area and south. It was not the defining freeze of the century for you.

I just pulled my copy of David Fairchild's "The World Grows Round My Door" and it appears that the defining freeze of that century so South Florida was in 1917. At his home on the shores of Biscayne Bay one of his thermometers registered 22 degrees and the other 26. Even with that he describes Coconouts as turning brown, but does not state them dying. And Mangoes freezing to the ground, but coming back. The only things he states as dying are the really very tropical plants.

He also states that the weather following the freeze was wonderful, which I am sure helped with recovery of the plants.

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bubba

Keith, You are making me dig deep! The following constitute the recorded low minimum temperatures for the Feb. 2-6 timeframe of the 1917 freeze:

WPB-2/2-37F-1979

2/3-28F-1917

2/4-33F-1917

2/5-33F-1996

2/6-29F-1917

Miami-2/2-35F-1942

2/3-27F-1917

2/4-36F-1917

2/5-35F-1958

2/6-32F-1947

Key West-2/2-49F-1951

2/3-48F-1951

2/4-50F.1951

2/5-49F-1958

2/6-49F-1966

Certainly the 1917 Freeze was a cold front of major proportions.However,both West Palm Beach and Miami reported temperatures freezing or below on only two days during this major cold event.The point taken that even the coldest of the cold events do not take true South Florida dramatically below freezing.Additionally,temperatures bounce back very quickly.Also, places in Miami can get rather cold (ie-Homestead).In fact, Fairchild,while located very close to Biscayne Bay,can get quite cold compared to Miami Beach.

Why is this the case? Miami Beach's proximity to the warmth of the Ocean makes it's minimum temperatures substantially higher than those experienced near Biscayne Bay.The real player in the generation of warm temperatures is the proximity to the Gulfstream.

At Miami Beach the Stream is 4-6 miles off the Coast.At Palm Beach,because of it's extreme Eastern location, it is normally about 2 miles off the Coast.What were the low temperatures near the Ocean in Palm Beach during the 1917 Freeze? No records exist that I know about.That stated,I would bet they were substantially higher than the lows recorded inland,where they most likely were taken at that time as they are now.

The Keys....well they are the Keys.

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syersj
I forgot why we got into this debate. All I'm saying is south Florida is not impervious to devastating freezes. Some stuff survives and some things do not.

I think you hit it Ray. Sure some things survive, but how much does not. As an example, I can find some 89 survivor CIDP around here, but I have to think they are the exceptioin and not the rule for CIDP survival here during that freeze

Keith, there are tons of CIDP survivors around here, and without pulling up the stats, I bet we got just as cold as you. I know it got into the single digits here in the 80s....I wonder if the drier TX climate has anything to do with it??

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_Keith

For a little more research, I pulled out my Nehrling's books. Here are a few mentions

In February 1895, the temperature at Gotha, FL fell to 18 degrees

November of 1917, no temp noted, but statement "killed many of my valuable plants"

Naples, FL fell to 25 degrees in January and March of 1927, and again in January of 1928.

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_Keith

OK, just pulled another book. I have a really nice library of southern gardening books. This is from "Plant Pioneers: Story of the Reasoner Family"

1835 - All Citrus groves in state of Florida killed and bearing Mangos killed in Key West.

1886 - From Braidentown. Sunday morning low of 35 degrees, did not get above 46 degrees all day. Monday morning low of 29 degrees, did not get above 35 degrees all day. Tuesday morning low of 25 degrees, did not get above 38 degrees all day. Manatee River frozen out 150 feet on the South Bank. Lows recorded of 16 degrees at Orlando and 19 degrees at Tampa.

1894 - February 8, new low of 14 degrees

1917 - Mysteriously there was no mention of this freeze, but the pictures look as if they were mostly a large greenhouse operation, having learned from previous freezes and perhaps had moderated the effects. They were also a bit consumed with WWI as well.

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bubba

Keith,Gotha is near Orlando,Fla. Dr.Nehrling moved his operation to Naples in the 20's because of the numerous freezes.He maintained a large greenhouse at Gotha that is readily observable in numerous pictures of his Gotha facility.Temperatures at Gotha do not apply to East Coast South Florida.Apples and Oranges.Reasoner and Co. was venued in Orlando area.

Naples experiences far colder temperatures compared to East Coast South Florida. Why? No Gulfstream effect.Compare water temperatures and you will see.

Mangoes killed in Key West in 1835? Who do I interview? Lowest recorded official temperature in Key West is 44F.I guess that could kill a mango. I have heard many statements of extremely low temperatures recorded in Key West.Some are hard to believe because they are so out of touch with "official recordings".Anything is possible. I would point out that the Gulfstream is many times over 10 miles from Key West and many times during Winter the water temperature in Key West is lower than Palm Beach.

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_Keith

From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Freeze

Great Freeze

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

The Great Freeze refers to the winter of 1894-1895, especially in Florida where the brutally cold weather destroyed much of the nation's citrus crop.

There were actually twin freezes in Florida during this momentous season, the first in December 1894 and the second in February 1895. The first did not actually kill a lot of groves, but did cause them to produce new shoots. So, when the second, harder freeze came a few months later, the effects were even more devastating. All varieties of fruit (oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes, etc.) blackened on the trees, and bark split from top to bottom.[1] These effects were felt as far south as the Manatee River, below Tampa.[2]

Up to 1895, the cheap abundance of semi-tropical citrus groves extended into northern Florida and were producing as much as 6 million boxes of fruit per year.[3] After the Great Freeze, however, production plummeted to just 100,000 boxes and did not break the 1 million mark again until 1901.[4] As a result, land values also dropped in the citrus growing areas from $1,000 per acre to as little as $10 per acre. Many compared the economic impact of the Great Freeze on Florida to the effects of the Great Fire on the city of Chicago.[5]

In the wake of the Great Freeze, many planters simply abandoned their Florida groves in search of frost-free locations in places as far away as Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Jamaica.[6]

Others relocated to California, utilizing a seedless variety of grapefruit discovered by C.M. Marsh near Lakeland, Florida. He was able to harvest 10,000 buds before the Great Freeze that were later propagated by west coast growers with great success.[7]

Growers who were not able to abandon the region were forced to try their hands at growing other crops, which had the positive result of diversifying Florida's agriculture. For instance, Palatka became particularly well-known for its potato crop in the years following the Great Freeze; and Sanford was closely identified with celery.[8]

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_Keith
Keith,Gotha is near Orlando,Fla. Dr.Nehrling moved his operation to Naples in the 20's because of the numerous freezes.He maintained a large greenhouse at Gotha that is readily observable in numerous pictures of his Gotha facility.Temperatures at Gotha do not apply to East Coast South Florida.Apples and Oranges.Reasoner and Co. was venued in Orlando area.

Naples experiences far colder temperatures compared to East Coast South Florida. Why? No Gulfstream effect.Compare water temperatures and you will see.

Mangoes killed in Key West in 1835? Who do I interview? Lowest recorded official temperature in Key West is 44F.I guess that could kill a mango. I have heard many statements of extremely low temperatures recorded in Key West.Some are hard to believe because they are so out of touch with "official recordings".Anything is possible. I would point out that the Gulfstream is many times over 10 miles from Key West and many times during Winter the water temperature in Key West is lower than Palm Beach.

Bubba, this quote from the article below could explan some. "unfortunately no meteorological records were kept in the Miami area again until September, 1895" I bet the same applies to Key West.

From: http://www.srh.noaa.gov/mfl/history/

In 1890, at the request of President Benjamin Harrison, Congress created the Weather Bureau within the Department of Agriculture. On July 1, 1891, the meteorological mission of the Signal Service was officially transferred to the Weather Bureau. The Jupiter Signal Service station therefore became the Jupiter Weather Bureau with Alexander J. Mitchell as the Official-in-Charge (Mitchell was later a long term Official-in-Charge of the Jacksonville Weather Bureau) followed in 1894 by James W. Cronk. On December 29, 1894, the State of Florida experienced its worst freeze since 1835 and another severe freeze occurred February 8-9, 1895. The only South Florida meteorological record of those two freezes was at Jupiter, where the temperature dropped to 24 on December 29, and to 27 on February 9. Partially as a result of those two severe freezes which were reportedly much less severe near Biscayne Bay (local legend contends that Julia Tuttle sent an orange blossom to show that the freeze had not affected the Miami area), Henry Flagler decided to extend his railroad south from West Palm Beach to the northern shore of the Miami River and build a luxury hotel there.

While the Jupiter Weather Bureau was keeping accurate records of meteorological conditions for (at that time) northern Dade County, unfortunately no meteorological records were kept in the Miami area again until September, 1895, when a new station was established at Lemon City (possibly as a result of those two freezes farther north in Florida). Lemon City was a town located near the present day intersection of NE 2nd Avenue and 60th Street. From Larry Wiggins' study entitled "The Birth of Miami" available on the Historical Museum of Southern Florida's web site:

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AggiePalms

I remember that hideous Christmas 1983 freeze very well...I owned my first few palms and cycads while in grad school at Texas A&M, and everything froze solid...lost my car to the ice, my townhouse to broken pipes, my prelim exams to flooded books, and even the palms. I guess that wasn't the worst part, though. After the car succombed to the ice, I had to walk back 8-10 miles in a 15 degree ice storm. The police wouldn't stop to help. Maybe to get their help I just should have yelled "Palm!" instead of "Help!".

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bubba

Keith, I am not sure I am making my point cogently. The climate of the Southeast Coast of Florida and Central Florida are not in the same ballpark. Central Florida has suffered low temperatures in the upper teens.Citrus culture in Florida in the 1890's was centered in North Florida.(Jacksonville to Ocala)Leaving Florida to head to Jamaica for Citrus production, as suggested by Wikepedia, would have been an over-reaction.

The climate of Southwest Florida(Naples) is also much colder in terms of all-time minimum temperatures.I believe Naples has reported all time lows around 22 to 24 F.Southeastern Coastal Florida(from Palm Beach South to the Key's)has seen all-time minimums of shorter duration and much warmer than Naples.

What is the reason for the warmer climate experienced in Southeastern Coastal Florida? More than likely it is the proximity to the Gulfstream.It is that huge Ocean river of extremely warm water that reaches it's closest point to the coast of Florida at Palm Beach.(2 miles)It also is responsible for Palms growing in Ireland.

Although long time temperature histories may not be available in Southeastern Coastal Florida because of it's relatively recent development,it does not logically follow that this is why we have no records of Artic Freezes dismembering Southeastern Coastal Florida.I would suggest that barring a new Ice Age,it is simply not in the cards.Accordingly,while low temperatures are a possibility,as long as the Gulfstream flows,the liklihood is low and certainly not inevitable.

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_Keith
Keith, I am not sure I am making my point cogently. The climate of the Southeast Coast of Florida and Central Florida are not in the same ballpark. Central Florida has suffered low temperatures in the upper teens.Citrus culture in Florida in the 1890's was centered in North Florida.(Jacksonville to Ocala)Leaving Florida to head to Jamaica for Citrus production, as suggested by Wikepedia, would have been an over-reaction.

The climate of Southwest Florida(Naples) is also much colder in terms of all-time minimum temperatures.I believe Naples has reported all time lows around 22 to 24 F.Southeastern Coastal Florida(from Palm Beach South to the Key's)has seen all-time minimums of shorter duration and much warmer than Naples.

What is the reason for the warmer climate experienced in Southeastern Coastal Florida? More than likely it is the proximity to the Gulfstream.It is that huge Ocean river of extremely warm water that reaches it's closest point to the coast of Florida at Palm Beach.(2 miles)It also is responsible for Palms growing in Ireland.

Although long time temperature histories may not be available in Southeastern Coastal Florida because of it's relatively recent development,it does not logically follow that this is why we have no records of Artic Freezes dismembering Southeastern Coastal Florida.I would suggest that barring a new Ice Age,it is simply not in the cards.Accordingly,while low temperatures are a possibility,as long as the Gulfstream flows,the liklihood is low and certainly not inevitable.

I accept your argument as logical, but I am not arguing. I am simply researching and putting out the historically published literature that is relevant for the entire Gulf Coast.

I leave each individual to determine what it means to them.

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syersj
I remember that hideous Christmas 1983 freeze very well...I owned my first few palms and cycads while in grad school at Texas A&M, and everything froze solid...lost my car to the ice, my townhouse to broken pipes, my prelim exams to flooded books, and even the palms. I guess that wasn't the worst part, though. After the car succombed to the ice, I had to walk back 8-10 miles in a 15 degree ice storm. The police wouldn't stop to help. Maybe to get their help I just should have yelled "Palm!" instead of "Help!".

Curious to know which palms you lost in that freeze in College Station TX. All the "hardy" palms survived in this area of TX.

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syersj

Bottom line is both positions are legit. Bubba's point is freezes are few and very far between (decades) in S. FL and hard freezes are virtually non existant, or close to it. The other point is that once a century, half century, whatever, S. FL can get a freeze that will damage or kill tender stuff, although if your property is located near the Atlantic, you probably have nothing to worry about in your lifetime. My personal opinion is that some are overstating the damage caused by freezes in S FL given the extreme amount of tropical palms I saw last time I visited the area in 2002. I saw big royals and coconuts in Homestead, and area that some claim got down into the 20s. Don't really see how or this stuff would have been killed. I saw big royals all the way up to around lake okeechobee.

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