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Eric in Orlando

March 3, 1980 freeze in Orlando

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Eric in Orlando

Back on March 3, 1980, Orlando had a low of 25F. I'm not sure if this is the latest below freezing temperature ever recorded here but probably the latest hard freeze. It was only below freezing one night and day temperatures rebounded fast, I was 12 years old and just getting interested in plants. I remember damage on things in our yard; crotons and hibiscus froze back part of the way, Dracaena marginata froze to the ground and Schefflera defoliated and died back about a foot, some burn on Dypsis lutescens and a young Archontophoenix alexandrae under tree canopy.  In the neighborhood Syagrus romanzoffiana had some burn (these were the more tender forms that were killed later in the 3 80s killer freezes) as did Araucaria columnaris. Selloums in open locations were burnt, same with Strelitzia nicolai and Ravenala. And I remember a couple big Seagrapes, Ficus elastica and Ficus lyrata were defoliated with some dieback. 

Here were the temperatures for that week in March 1980;

1- 74/59

2- 63/30

3- 52/25

4- 70/33

5- 79/53

6- 84/53

7- 82/53

 

Anyone else remember this late freeze?

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Collectorpalms
3 hours ago, Eric in Orlando said:

Back on March 3, 1980, Orlando had a low of 25F. I'm not sure if this is the latest below freezing temperature ever recorded here but probably the latest hard freeze. It was only below freezing one night and day temperatures rebounded fast, I was 12 years old and just getting interested in plants. I remember damage on things in our yard; crotons and hibiscus froze back part of the way, Dracaena marginata froze to the ground and Schefflera defoliated and died back about a foot, some burn on Dypsis lutescens and a young Archontophoenix alexandrae under tree canopy.  In the neighborhood Syagrus romanzoffiana had some burn (these were the more tender forms that were killed later in the 3 80s killer freezes) as did Araucaria columnaris. Selloums in open locations were burnt, same with Strelitzia nicolai and Ravenala. And I remember a couple big Seagrapes, Ficus elastica and Ficus lyrata were defoliated with some dieback. 

Here were the temperatures for that week in March 1980;

1- 74/59

2- 63/30

3- 52/25

4- 70/33

5- 79/53

6- 84/53

7- 82/53

 

Anyone else remember this late freeze?

Galveston, Texas saw 26F on March 2, 1980. The lowest temperature in March since records began in 1872. 

Edited by Collectorpalms
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Bill H2DB

   I remember that freeze well. The weather had been cold up to that time with some frost / freeze .

  On March 2 , a Sunday , at about 1-2 PM , I realized that it was very cold for that time of day ( about 48 F) , cloudy , and a North wind and it looked like the forecast was going to be 

wrong significantly . ( I think that the forecast had been for a warmup following the previous days of cold ).     I went out and did extra covering and etc  on everything that I could . 

   That night the all time lowest temperature for March , in Daytona Beach was set .  Records for the date on 3 straight nights .  Also a record low Maximum on the 3rd .

 

24763870963_d10395a22e_c.jpgDaytona Beach March by Bill H, on Flickr

 

 

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kinzyjr

Looks like Lakeland Linder hit 25F per NOAA data as well.  For anyone that wants to view the available NOAA data for Florida during that freeze, it's attached as an Excel file.

 

19800301_MarchFreeze.xlsx

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ruskinPalms

Interesting. Looks like Parrish hit 29F then. Wasn’t there a pretty wicked frost in central Florida in March in the mid 2000s that did a lot of damage?

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Matthew92

Thanks for bringing this one up @Eric in Orlando I had seen this freeze in records before, but hadn't heard much about its effects in FL (although I can't find it now- I remember reading an article about how it really devastated peach blooms and other crops in additional states in the south). 

It's amazing as now it seems to be hard for it to get that cold even during the traditionally coldest winter months in recent winters in much of Central FL.  With so many tropical plants in the Orlando area today- if this event were to happen now, it would be shocking to many people.

Edited by Matthew92
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Sabal_Louisiana

Baton Rouge had 20, on March 3, 1980. saw it in the records for the date.

Don't remember it but I do recall an odd winter or two when the coldest temperature of the winter came in March. though 

The coldest temperature we had during the winter of 2019-2020 came in November, that was odd. New Orleans' last freezing temp before Feb 2021 was November 2019.

At any rate, we just couldn't catch a break during the grueling stretch of 1977-1985. I have vague memories of these monster events:

January 1977 - exceptionally cold month across the southeast; only Jan 1940 was a colder month in history. Snow flurries in Miami.

January 1978 - wet and cold; NO average high for the month was only 50, lowest on record.

January 1979 - temps in the teens along Gulf Coast. After 3 brutally cold winters in the eastern US, scientists wonder if there's a new 'Little Ice Age'  in the works.

Winter of 1980 - see above; incidentally a terrribly hot summer that year for Texas and surrounding states.

January 1981 - cold and dry; 'Siberian Express' brings 13 to Jacksonville.

January 1982 - 'forgotten' extreme cold wave. 10 degrees in Baton Rouge, 82 a few days later.

1983 - notorious El Nino season of 82-83. A break from the Arctic cold along Gulf Coast but torrential rains instead. Then a big bad Arctic high brings record cold in an already abnormally cold December 1983 (1056 mb in Kansas!) 11 in Houston, upper teens RGV of Texas.  Record cold lasts into early January 1984.

1985 - Another historic freeze, this time targeting the southeast. Most of Georgia fell below zeroF with this one.

I couldn't imagine the discouragement a palm grower would have had during that period.

But at least the music was good during that era.

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Palmaceae
33 minutes ago, Sabal_Louisiana said:

Baton Rouge had 20, on March 3, 1980. saw it in the records for the date.

Don't remember it but I do recall an odd winter or two when the coldest temperature of the winter came in March. though 

The coldest temperature we had during the winter of 2019-2020 came in November, that was odd. New Orleans' last freezing temp before Feb 2021 was November 2019.

At any rate, we just couldn't catch a break during the grueling stretch of 1977-1985. I have vague memories of these monster events:

January 1977 - exceptionally cold month across the southeast; only Jan 1940 was a colder month in history. Snow flurries in Miami.

January 1978 - wet and cold; NO average high for the month was only 50, lowest on record.

January 1979 - temps in the teens along Gulf Coast. After 3 brutally cold winters in the eastern US, scientists wonder if there's a new 'Little Ice Age'  in the works.

Winter of 1980 - see above; incidentally a terrribly hot summer that year for Texas and surrounding states.

January 1981 - cold and dry; 'Siberian Express' brings 13 to Jacksonville.

January 1982 - 'forgotten' extreme cold wave. 10 degrees in Baton Rouge, 82 a few days later.

1983 - notorious El Nino season of 82-83. A break from the Arctic cold along Gulf Coast but torrential rains instead. Then a big bad Arctic high brings record cold in an already abnormally cold December 1983 (1056 mb in Kansas!) 11 in Houston, upper teens RGV of Texas.  Record cold lasts into early January 1984.

1985 - Another historic freeze, this time targeting the southeast. Most of Georgia fell below zeroF with this one.

I couldn't imagine the discouragement a palm grower would have had during that period.

But at least the music was good during that era.

I was one of those palm growers in the 80's in St Pete. But never gave up, can't tell you how many coconuts I lost then replanted in the spring after all those freezes. 

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AnTonY

@Sabal_Louisiana

@Matthew92

Indeed, those temps in the 1970s-1980s for much of the South are complete night and day from those of the 1990s onward (in general).

I've heard on some weather forums that the cold temps of those years in the South/Southeast US were due to the cold phase of the AMO. I've recently read about the slowdown of the Gulf Stream circulation component (AMOC), and I really hope that does not herald a return to such Arctic brutality.

Edited by AnTonY

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Steve the palmreader
21 hours ago, Eric in Orlando said:

Back on March 3, 1980, Orlando had a low of 25F. I'm not sure if this is the latest below freezing temperature ever recorded here but probably the latest hard freeze. It was only below freezing one night and day temperatures rebounded fast, I was 12 years old and just getting interested in plants. I remember damage on things in our yard; crotons and hibiscus froze back part of the way, Dracaena marginata froze to the ground and Schefflera defoliated and died back about a foot, some burn on Dypsis lutescens and a young Archontophoenix alexandrae under tree canopy.  In the neighborhood Syagrus romanzoffiana had some burn (these were the more tender forms that were killed later in the 3 80s killer freezes) as did Araucaria columnaris. Selloums in open locations were burnt, same with Strelitzia nicolai and Ravenala. And I remember a couple big Seagrapes, Ficus elastica and Ficus lyrata were defoliated with some dieback. 

Here were the temperatures for that week in March 1980;

1- 74/59

2- 63/30

3- 52/25

4- 70/33

5- 79/53

6- 84/53

7- 82/53

 

Anyone else remember this late freeze?

I lived in Jax during that March 1980 freeze we had snow followed by Temps in the low 20s . I was a strange sight seeing the azeleas  covered in snow. I think it froze all the way to Miami

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ahosey01
On 3/4/2021 at 6:22 PM, Sabal_Louisiana said:

Baton Rouge had 20, on March 3, 1980. saw it in the records for the date.

Don't remember it but I do recall an odd winter or two when the coldest temperature of the winter came in March. though 

The coldest temperature we had during the winter of 2019-2020 came in November, that was odd. New Orleans' last freezing temp before Feb 2021 was November 2019.

At any rate, we just couldn't catch a break during the grueling stretch of 1977-1985. I have vague memories of these monster events:

January 1977 - exceptionally cold month across the southeast; only Jan 1940 was a colder month in history. Snow flurries in Miami.

January 1978 - wet and cold; NO average high for the month was only 50, lowest on record.

January 1979 - temps in the teens along Gulf Coast. After 3 brutally cold winters in the eastern US, scientists wonder if there's a new 'Little Ice Age'  in the works.

Winter of 1980 - see above; incidentally a terrribly hot summer that year for Texas and surrounding states.

January 1981 - cold and dry; 'Siberian Express' brings 13 to Jacksonville.

January 1982 - 'forgotten' extreme cold wave. 10 degrees in Baton Rouge, 82 a few days later.

1983 - notorious El Nino season of 82-83. A break from the Arctic cold along Gulf Coast but torrential rains instead. Then a big bad Arctic high brings record cold in an already abnormally cold December 1983 (1056 mb in Kansas!) 11 in Houston, upper teens RGV of Texas.  Record cold lasts into early January 1984.

1985 - Another historic freeze, this time targeting the southeast. Most of Georgia fell below zeroF with this one.

I couldn't imagine the discouragement a palm grower would have had during that period.

But at least the music was good during that era.

I’m 30 and my parents weren’t even of responsible child bearing age during most of this time, so I can’t comment from experience.

However - I remember when I was a kid that my friends dad was always on this passionate 24/7 existential crusade about “global warming is fake!! Twenty-five years ago, they said we were moving into an ice age!! And that was fake, too!!”  He had even kept a TIME magazine from that time with a cover story saying something to the effect of the planet moving into a new ice age. I think it was published in like 1981 or something.  Up until now, I never had any context for the time period he was talking about.  This is super interesting.

Edited by ahosey01

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