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syersj

TX vs. FL

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syersj

I have lived in both FL and TX for over 5 years each,  been all over both states.  Have seen what grows in both places, and have studied the climate records for both states.  So I have come up with a little comparison between the 2 states.  My comparison is what 2 cities/areas are nearly identical or closely match both palm wise and climate wise.  See if you agree with my comparisons, or tell me where I am wrong.

San Antonio/Houston = Jacksonville.  I looked up climate records and did comparisons for averages for SA and Jax.  They are nearly identical, about as close as you can get.  The average overall yearly temp in SA is 1F higher than Jax.  With Summer in SA being about 4-5F hotter, and winter 1-2F colder.  Houston also closely matches Jax.  A palm that could be grown in one location could be grown in the other.

Galveston = St. Augustine to Palm Coast.  Galveston winter time highs might be a little lower, lows a little higher, and overall warmer than St Augustine, but this is the closest match.  Galveston summer LOWS are only 80F, more like south FL, but winters slightly cooler.

Austin/College Station = Tallahassee/Lake city/FL panhandle.  Both somewhat prone to the artic cold fronts.  Austin being much hotter in summer, maybe a degree or 2 colder in winter, but overall a wash.  Austin January highs average in the low 60s, same as the panhandle.

Corpus Christi = Daytona Beach.  Both probably borderline 10A climates with a freeze once ever 2-3 years.  Corpus probably has been less susceptible to freezes the last 10-15 years than Daytona, so in that aspect they are more like the Space Coast area, but on the other hand thier Jan highs are around 68F, a degree or 2 colder than Daytona (70F).

Laredo = Ocala/Somewhere in interior FL near or just north of Orlando.  No real good comparison.  Laredo is much hotter/drier than anywhere in FL.  Winter highs are close to Ocala, but overall temps are MUCH warmer than Ocala, so I would say somewhere south of Ocala, near Orlando or just north of Tampa (Brooksville, Zephyrhills, etc).

Interior RGV = Orlando/Tampa in town (not near coast.  Again, averages are about as close as you can get, with both locations close to 70/50 for Jan averages.  The valley being a little hotter in the summer (much hotter as you move inland towards McAllen).

Port Isabel/SPI = Space Coast, possible as far south as Fort Pierce.  Both areas slightly warmer than interior locations.  Ft Pierce is probably a little more sheltered from the biggest cold fronts than SPI.

Just my thoughts, let me know if you agree.

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bubba

Jim, I think your comparison is well thought out and accurate.

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steve 9atx

Jim

I think you're close with two caveats:  1.) I doubt Laredo is a good match with anywhere in FL due to it's desert-like climate; that is, the wide diurnal/nocturnal swings and 2.) with Houston proper you have to figure in the Urban Heat Island effect.  Official temps in Houston are measured at the big airport, well north of town - it's colder in the winter (and hotter in the summer for that matter) than an in-town temp would be especially on the first night of a radiational freeze.  See http://www.isu.edu/~stredavi/research.html for a scholarly study of the UHI effect.  Although a few freezes have been "officially" recorded in the past several years, knock on wood I'm going into my fourth winter without a freezing temperature just south of downtown.  I think over time, San Antone is at least a half zone cooler that Houston in the winter also.

Steve

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syersj

(steve 9atx @ Dec. 27 2006,16:51)

QUOTE
Jim

I think you're close with two caveats:  1.) I doubt Laredo is a good match with anywhere in FL due to it's desert-like climate; that is, the wide diurnal/nocturnal swings and 2.) with Houston proper you have to figure in the Urban Heat Island effect.  Official temps in Houston are measured at the big airport, well north of town - it's colder in the winter (and hotter in the summer for that matter) than an in-town temp would be especially on the first night of a radiational freeze.  See http://www.isu.edu/~stredavi/research.html for a scholarly study of the UHI effect.  Although a few freezes have been "officially" recorded in the past several years, knock on wood I'm going into my fourth winter without a freezing temperature just south of downtown.  I think over time, San Antone is at least a half zone cooler that Houston in the winter also.

Steve

Steve, good points.  Except I disagree that Houston is a half zone warmer than San Antonio.  A degree or 2 maybe, but it is negligible.  SA is a 9A, so Houston would have to be a 9B for that to be true.  SA is actually slightly further south than Houston.

For example, during that cold snap on the first of Dec. SA got down to 29F, Houston Intercontinental got to 30F, and Houston Hobby 32F, a 1-3F difference.

Also, looking at the long term stats (60 years), the average winter min is 22.2F for SA, while it is 24.8 in Houston (not sure which airport they took the stats from for Houston).  About a 2 degree difference.  SA and the I-35 corridor have a good heat island too, compared to the outlying areas.  SA's airport on the north side of town is probably in line with Houston Intercontinental apt.

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happ

Appreciate your scholarly study, Jim.   :D

I am a student of climate.  Focus mostly on West Coast data/trends.  The 2 contiguously southern-most states, Texas & Florida draw comparisons and distinct differences.  Texas is more continentally-influenced and contains radically diverse climates [eg. Panhandle vs Rio Grande Valley; or El Paso vs Austin].  The high plains to the bayous  :P

Florida is the most marine state [absent Hawaii] & dips deeply into subtropical characteristics.  A latitude equal to Cancun.  :cool:

Isn't Florida more likely to escape a freeze than similar latitude regions of Texas?

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syersj

(happ @ Dec. 27 2006,21:23)

QUOTE
Isn't Florida more likely to escape a freeze than similar latitude regions of Texas?

Happ,

To answer your question, yes, USUALLY but not always.  All things being equal, TX usually is more prone to a freeze being right below the Great Plains.  For example, the RGV is on the same latitude with SOUTH Florida, yet is only equivalent of Central Florida in winter, both in averages and records.  Of course it helps that Florida has water on both sides, TX only one side.  Corpus is actually farther south than Tampa, yet is ever so slightly cooler (couple degrees) than Tampa in winter.  Summers of course are nearly identical near the TX coast of FL coast, both hot and humid.  TX being a little hotter.

The reason I say usually, is because on many occasions, you will see a dome of high pressure over TX in winter, protecting it from artic fronts, and pushing them eastward.  In these occasions, Florida can take the brunt of the cold, while TX statys mild.  But more often than not, I would say FL, especially south FL has more protective factors going for it.  Inland TX, also sometimes heats up faster due to the drier inland climate.  That is why, for example San Antonio has seen 90s in Dec and Jan, and 100s in Feb, unlike Florida.  This offsets the slightly cooler winter weather somewhat.  Austin, for example is even the FL panhandle, and I would say just as warm, because even though prone to freezes, sees much more overall winter heat than the florida panhandle.  More 75-80F winter days in Austin TX when the winds come off Mexico or the Gulf, than for example the panhandle.  The FL panhandle can't heat up that fast due to proximity to water.

Normally, however, to have equal climates in FL and TX, the one in TX needs to be a little south of the one in FL.  There are exceptions, for example Galveston is probably milder overall than the same latitude than FL, but that is the exception, not the rule.

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syersj

(happ @ Dec. 27 2006,21:23)

QUOTE
 Texas is more continentally-influenced and contains radically diverse climates [eg. Panhandle vs Rio Grande Valley; or El Paso vs Austin].  The high plains to the bayous  :P

Oh, and you don't want to be in the panhandle in winter.  It can be brutally cold and snowy.  There can be a blizzard going on in the panhandle, at the same time deep south TX is in the 80s, with beach weather, shorts and T-shirts.  The panhandle is more like Kansas and Colorado than the rest of TX.

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SubTropicRay

Hi Jim,

An accurate analysis I would say.  

Ray

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tropical1

Jim-

Are there coconut trees fruiting reliably on SPI?

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syersj

(tropical1 @ Dec. 27 2006,23:08)

QUOTE
Jim-

Are there coconut trees fruiting reliably on SPI?

Yes, but all have been planted more recently (after 1989). The valley saw low 20s in the 80s and would have killed off any planted then.  Winters recently have averaged mid 30s (upper 30s?) for minimums on SPI/Port Isabel.  

Someone else can probably comment on the valley cocos, I have only been there a few times, but they are becoming more prevalent, I believe. (Still not nearly as prevalent as south FL by any means).

Here is the annual min for Brownsville the last 5 years.  SPI would naturally be 2-3 degrees higher.

06-07: 36

05-06: 35

04-05: 28 (infamous 100+ year freak snowfall)

03-04: 35

02-03: 35

Avg: 33.8, SPI probably averaged about 35-37F for mins same time period (no reporting stations that I am aware of).

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spockvr6

Jim-

There is a Port Isabel station (KPIL) listed on weatherunderground, but the data is spotty.  Heres what is listed for historical data as far as yearly lows---

2006 - 34F

2005 - 35F

2004 - missing

2003 - 35F

2002 - 32F

2001 - 32F

2000 - missing

1999 - 37F

Anything older than 1999 seems to be also missing.  But, the recent year data looks quite good to me.

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amazondk

Not that this has anything to do with climate zones.  But, I find the biggest difference to be that Texas has a lot of Mexicans and Florida has a lot of Cubans, at least South Florida.  I worked many years in  Miami with Cubans and a few years working with a Houston based company as well as other time working on a project where I went to Dallas quite a bit where I got to know the Texas culture better.  If you compare Houston and Miami in some ways they do not even seem like they are in the same country.    Maybe it comes down to tacos and refried beans vs black beans, rice and lechon.    I haven´t been to Miami for a year and I am feeling a longing to go the Tropico restaurante by MIA have lunch with my friends.  

dk

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syersj

(spockvr6 @ Dec. 28 2006,11:53)

QUOTE
Jim-

There is a Port Isabel station (KPIL) listed on weatherunderground, but the data is spotty.  Heres what is listed for historical data as far as yearly lows---

2006 - 34F

2005 - 35F

2004 - missing

2003 - 35F

2002 - 32F

2001 - 32F

2000 - missing

1999 - 37F

Anything older than 1999 seems to be also missing.  But, the recent year data looks quite good to me.

Hmm...seems there isn't as big a difference between Port Isabel and Brownsville as I thought.  I bet the island itself is a couple degrees warmer though.

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ruskinPalms

Interesting topic. I looked on a map of extreme south texas and it definitely seems like a nice climate zone around SPI and Port Isabel. Given the proximity to water and at the same latitude of Miami, I would expect to see foliage very similar to Miami (Cocos, Roystonea, Etc. Etc. by the 1000's). Extreme south coastal texas must be 10A/B! I am less optimistic about the Rio Grande Valley as it must be pretty dry out there so radiational cooling must be frequent, if not extreme, in the winter with lots of nights in the 40's (even if it warms up to 80's the next day) that can take a toll on Cocos and Royals in the RGV. And this nightly radiational cooling may become more exagerated as one makes their way north of Laredo. I find it hard to compare the RGV to anywhere in Florida north of Laredo. Maybe I am wrong about the RGV as I have not done any real research about the area's climate  ??? .Coastal TX definitely has a lot of similarities to FL. I would like it if one of you TX folks could come  up with a reason to take your family and your camera on an outing to SPI as a weekend trip!

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syersj

The RGV is pretty humid, being near the coast, but only gets about half the annual rainfall they get in FL.  Royals are no problem for the valley, there's some being grown in Galveston, hundreds of miles north up the coast.  Some would say they are on borrowed time, since an 80s type freeze could come back.  Whether another freeze of that magnitude comes back in our lifetimes is anyone's guess.  No doubt about it, the RGV is definitely a solid zone 10A.

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happ

Asute discussion  :D  And suggests that hardiness  has more to do with longevity rather than intensity of cold temps.  Only Central/SoFlorida & deepest Texas gardeners reliably know what kind of damage occurs in just one night of sub-freezing temps.  ???

Others have commented on the limitations of the USDA zones.  Think we need a more precise measure of climate.

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KatyTX

My observations from S.Padre TX this summer were that cocos & royals are rarely seen there.  I could find only one coco - definitely not fruiting reliably yet.

post-207-1167360535_thumb.jpg

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KatyTX

I found a few royals there & in the RGV - none of them appeared to be large enough to have existed pre-1989.  W.robusta outnumbers everything else 10-1 (including native trees and grasses  ??? ).  Maybe with a few more mild winters things will start catching on there.

Matt

post-207-1167360727_thumb.jpg

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happ

Matt

You raise the same question for California's "big freeze" of Dec1990.

Anyone know of royals surviving in LA/SanDiego; are all specimens post-1990?     ???

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tropical1

I would say based on Cocos and Royal pictures above, space coast is a tad bit warmer particularly merritt island and beaches compared to SPI However, I will qualify that statement by saying I have never been on SPI. I was just over at the space coast recently and there are plenty of mature coconuts and royals around. I am sure they were planted since 1989. Anyone else have pics from SPI?

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spockvr6

In the warmer areas of central FL, there are plenty of pre-1989 Royals (and other tell-tale climate indicator plants) left.

I am pretty sure these werent planted 16 years ago :D

royals-street.jpg

Nor this Mango which must be 75-100 years old?

mango2.jpg

mango3.jpg

And I think this Ficus has been around some time!

banyan.jpg

And this Seagrape is also ancient.

Bradenton-October2006_04.jpg

Of course, none of these plants would have been likely to have survived 1989 in my yard  :D

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spockvr6

These are some of the oldest Royals I can find in my general part of town....and they seem to show the beatings theyve taken from past cold snaps.  And, these are in one of the warmest areas of north Pinellas (Crystal Beach, FL).

There are not very many ancient looking Royals in this part of the county, so I assume that many were killed off in the 80's.

oldroyals2.jpg

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tropical1

Larry -

Nice pics, where is the street lined with royals? Pinellas point?

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spockvr6

(tropical1 @ Dec. 28 2006,23:37)

QUOTE
Larry -

Nice pics, where is the street lined with royals? Pinellas point?

Kyle-

Although there are streets of St. Pete that look like that, those particular ones are in Bradenton.

But yes....

<jealousy rearing its ugly head>

Pinellas Point stinks!  I hate those guys down there!  

The old Northeast/Snell Isle/Coffeepot Bayou, etc parts of town are also ridculous.  It does not like liek that up here in Tarpon Springs, even right on the Gulf.

<jealousy off>

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KatyTX

Definitely no Royal-lined streets anywhere in Texas.  I think the effects of 1989 are very slow to wear off.

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syersj

(KatyTX @ Dec. 29 2006,00:24)

QUOTE
Definitely no Royal-lined streets anywhere in Texas.  I think the effects of 1989 are very slow to wear off.

Matt, agree there aren't an abundance of Royals and Cocos in the valley (there are other cocos, I have seen others, not many, but some others), but I think that is more a factor of what is planted, not what is hardy.  Fact is Washingtonias are planted by the millions.  What is the first thing you see entering the valley.  They don't line streets with Royals in the valley.  If they did, there would be Royal lined streets. They can most definitely be grown though.  There are 2 factors I see.  For whatever reason, all the valley highways at one point in time were lined with Washingtonias, so that is what you mostly see, not that other things can't be grown.  And the second factor is the memory of the 80s freezes, which are probably etched into peoples minds thinking these types of freezes might come back, and they very well could.  So they don't line the streets with Royals, although I think there is a good number of them in private gardens.

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syersj

(tropical1 @ Dec. 28 2006,23:03)

QUOTE
I would say based on Cocos and Royal pictures above, space coast is a tad bit warmer particularly merritt island and beaches compared to SPI However, I will qualify that statement by saying I have never been on SPI. I was just over at the space coast recently and there are plenty of mature coconuts and royals around. I am sure they were planted since 1989. Anyone else have pics from SPI?

Could be true, although the statistics say that both areas are zone 10s, so in "theory" what is grown in one location could be grown in the other.  Could be that Merritt island is slightly warmer, or it could just be a factor of what is commonly planted.  If I went down to SPI and planted a million royals right now, they would survive - maybe not forever, but at least long enough to be there for quite some time.  Also, I am pretty sure, although not absolutely sure, that the space coast saw some very bad freezes in the 80s, so I don't think all of them survived there either, although I could be wrong about this point.

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ruskinPalms

(syersj @ Dec. 29 2006,01:33)

QUOTE

(tropical1 @ Dec. 28 2006,23:03)

QUOTE
I would say based on Cocos and Royal pictures above, space coast is a tad bit warmer particularly merritt island and beaches compared to SPI However, I will qualify that statement by saying I have never been on SPI. I was just over at the space coast recently and there are plenty of mature coconuts and royals around. I am sure they were planted since 1989. Anyone else have pics from SPI?

Could be true, although the statistics say that both areas are zone 10s, so in "theory" what is grown in one location could be grown in the other.  Could be that Merritt island is slightly warmer, or it could just be a factor of what is commonly planted.  If I went down to SPI and planted a million royals right now, they would survive - maybe not forever, but at least long enough to be there for quite some time.  Also, I am pretty sure, although not absolutely sure, that the space coast saw some very bad freezes in the 80s, so I don't think all of them survived there either, although I could be wrong about this point.

I wish that small 3 gallonish royals were more available like foxtails around here so more people would plant them out. People plant foxtails all over the place and most are doing pretty good. I think if people planted little royals like little foxtails, at least a few would make it to adulthood. Growers: Why aren't there more royals at the big box stores in central FL and south TX? I got lucky and found 3 gallon royals at the super walmart in venice, FL a couple years ago and bought only one. I wish I had bought them all for as cheap as they were!

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syersj

I had one grower tell me he does sell a lot of royals in the valley, but remember they would mostly be in private gardens, not lining the streets, and of course that is in recent years, as the bad freezes of yesteryear probably slowed down the sale of these types of palms for a while.

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spockvr6

(ruskinPalms @ Dec. 29 2006,01:39)

QUOTE
I wish that small 3 gallonish royals were more available like foxtails around here so more people would plant them out. People plant foxtails all over the place and most are doing pretty good. I think if people planted little royals like little foxtails, at least a few would make it to adulthood. Growers: Why aren't there more royals at the big box stores in central FL and south TX? I got lucky and found 3 gallon royals at the super walmart in venice, FL a couple years ago and bought only one. I wish I had bought them all for as cheap as they were!

My thoughts---

Royals get awful big and most homeowners (who are not palm addicts like us!) probably dont want their yards filled with trees that will eventually be massive and literally overwhelm the house.  Foxtails definitely stay far small than Royals and as such are probably more suitable to the average house.

Although there has been much discussion in the Royal vs. Foxtail hardiness debate, in my mind the Foxtail does seem a little hardier (when in a comparable size) and certainly more tolerant of frost.

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spockvr6

(KatyTX @ Dec. 29 2006,00:24)

QUOTE
Definitely no Royal-lined streets anywhere in Texas.  I think the effects of 1989 are very slow to wear off.

And most folks are not willing to risk the loss of a palm when there is something else they can plant that, in their minds, looks the same or close enough.  It makes sense....well not to me, but most normal folks!

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KatyTX

Larry & Jim,

While I was in the valley, I didn't see many nurserys offering Royals or anything uncommon. I doubt many there had even heard of a Royal palm prior to 1989.  They are not native to that area.  The fact is - it's an economically depressed area with not much demand for exotic landscaping (like you come to expect in FL).  It's also been very dry for several years.  

W.robusta grows like a weed there and is more common than any other tree, shrub or even telephone pole.  The S.Texas / Mexican culture is not to spend much time or money landscaping...takes away from more important things...

The climate there would certainly support Roylas though.

Matt

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syersj

Matt, good points about the culture.  If nurserys were selling royals, you would see tons of royals around the valley.  I did have one nurseryman tell me he sells lots of royals down there, so maybe they are becoming more common.  Also, don't forget they get only half or less the annual rainfall of Florida.

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spockvr6

(syersj @ Dec. 29 2006,11:42)

QUOTE
 Also, don't forget they get only half or less the annual rainfall of Florida.

That might be a problem...we all know Royals love water.  Without irrigation even here they many times look unhappy.

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bubba

I believe that the major reason the climate in Southeast Florida is more tropical at similar latitudes is the Gulfstream and it's close proximity to the shore. The Stream keeps a steady water temperature above 80 degrees F year round in some cases a few hundred feet offshore. This does not explain Southwest Florida in comparison to South Texas ( See Thomas Edison House and Gardens/ Ft. Myers) but it has to be the major factor creating the tropical nature of Southeast Florida. Are their any similar currents effecting Southwest Florida or South Texas? What are Gulf of Mexico water temperatures in Southwest Florida and South Texas in winter?

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syersj

(spockvr6 @ Dec. 28 2006,11:53)

QUOTE
Jim-

There is a Port Isabel station (KPIL) listed on weatherunderground, but the data is spotty.  Heres what is listed for historical data as far as yearly lows---

2006 - 34F

2005 - 35F

2004 - missing

2003 - 35F

2002 - 32F

2001 - 32F

2000 - missing

1999 - 37F

Anything older than 1999 seems to be also missing.  But, the recent year data looks quite good to me.

Larry, just out of curiosity, how does this compare with your stations over there for the same timer period.  How does it compare to St Pete.  Would be interesting to see.

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syersj

Matt's point about the economics of it is a very good one.  Deep S. TX is very economically depressed compared to SW or Eastern coast of FL, so you probably would normally not see major landscaping projects with bunches of royals, etc, like you would see in the upscale areas of FL.  Just a thought.

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Dave-Vero

The gulf stream is useless when the wind is out of the NNW.  But if it's from N, the air coming from off the water will always be above freezing.  NNE and it'll be warmish.  

The Atlantic has a very important effect on the Florida east coast in the summer--we rarely get really hot, unlike, say, inland areas of Ft Myers and Immokalee. Or Texas.

http://www.ahs.org/publications/heat_zone_map.htm

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steve 9atx

Bubba

Excellent point about the water temperatures.  Go to http://www.nodc.noaa.gov/dsdt/wtg12.html to see a comparison.  FL water temps are much more constant.  I know at Galveston the beachwater temps in the summer of 1980 approached/exceeded 90F.  That's WARM bathwater!  In the freeze of '89, the water temperature in some estuaries was down to the low 40's which led to massive fish kills.  Our current on the upper TX coast is a counterclockwise one which brings all the lovely silt from the Mississippi River our way.

Steve

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