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ruskinPalms

Worst freezes ever

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ruskinPalms

Hello,

I am curious about the big freezes that have hit traditionally subtropical areas like central and south Florida, south Texas and southern and coastal California. For example, how bad was the freeze in '89 here in Florida? Did the native Royals see damage in thier habitat in south Florida?

Thanks,

Bill

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Dave-Vero

There should be some information available on what happened at Collier-Seminole State Park or Fakahatchee Strand.  For farther north, here's a great report.

http://www.plantapalm.com/centralfl/FreezeDaveWitt.asp

Sort of off-topic, here's a really nice piece on cycads for Florida:

http://miami-dade.ifas.ufl.edu/Program....ape.htm

"Dioon edule is probably the most cold-hardy of all the cycads. In the 1989 freeze, parts of Lakeland, FL, got down to 17°F. Most king sagos were completely defoliated, while D. edule plants only experienced tip burn."

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SunnyFl

(Dave-Vero @ Aug. 08 2006,10:59)

QUOTE
"Dioon edule is probably the most cold-hardy of all the cycads. In the 1989 freeze, parts of Lakeland, FL, got down to 17°F. Most king sagos were completely defoliated, while D. edule plants only experienced tip burn."

That's nice to know.  Dioon edule is also a beautiful cycad.

In Clearwater, the temp in '89 went down to 19F, yet - according to David Witt - a coconut palm on Clearwater Beach survived.  My guess it was a Jamaica Tall.  I read somewhere that Melbourne got down to 19F as well.

I don't know exactly how low the temps here went, but it was awful all over the state.  I had a place in Pinellas Park where all my tropicals froze - a couple of hibs came back the following spring.  My other place in St. Pete, it wasn't quite as bad apparently.  The epipremnum and philodendron growing up the oak survived, as did an unprotected allamanda and some costus growing wild in the backyard.

I got that allamanda in '86 or '87 and moved it here prior to the '89 freeze - it's still here blooming like crazy.

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cryptobionic

It was bad, no doubt. It's one of the two reasons which cured my original Palm fascination. My neighbor recorded 11 degrees up here in the Florida Alps. I lost every palm in my makeshift greenhouse, most of my planted palms (which were many, I was a real Palm Pig back then), including all my Queens. Only 3 of my Washingtonias survived. It was balmy a few days before and after this devastating event, I think that compounded the damage to tropicals. Bottle-brush trees were as common as Ligustrum in Central Florida landscapes, virtually every one of them died immediately, all victims of bark that literally burst. There was somewhat of a mass depression afterwards, because no matter where you went, brown gooey globs cloaked every neighborhood, Even more temperate plants showed damage.

Some surprising survivors in my garden:

     Livistona australis: barely even a chlorotic cold spot.  

     Chamaedorea elegans: burned leaves, but regrew like troopers.

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Steve

Was anyone around for the January 21-22 freezes of 1985?  I didn't live in the South then, but it seems that 1/21/85 is the all time record low for just about every city in the Southeast down even into Southern parts of Florida.  Then the next day 1/22/85 was almost as cold.  I'd be interested to hear the aftermath of those two days.

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BobbyinNY

This is a VERY depressing subject :(

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NBTX11

(BobbyinNY @ Aug. 10 2006,10:41)

QUOTE
This is a VERY depressing subject :(

Don't worry Bobby, south Florida (Miami area) never got below 31 or 32 during this freeze.  If you moved to South FL or the keys, I don't think you would ever have to worry about it.

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spockvr6

(ruskinPalms @ Aug. 07 2006,17:06)

QUOTE
For example, how bad was the freeze in '89 here in Florida?

The only numbers I can readily find around here for 1989 are for Albert Whitted AP in St. Pete.  This station's readings are, almost without exception, the warmest in the area due to the specific geographic location.

According to this station's numbers, the following was recorded---

12/23/1989 - 29F

12/24/1989 - 27F

12/25/1989 - 30F

12/26/1989 - 32F

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spockvr6

(Steve @ Aug. 10 2006,08:49)

QUOTE
Was anyone around for the January 21-22 freezes of 1985?  I didn't live in the South then, but it seems that 1/21/85 is the all time record low for just about every city in the Southeast down even into Southern parts of Florida.  Then the next day 1/22/85 was almost as cold.  I'd be interested to hear the aftermath of those two days.

I wasnt here either, but I just checked the records and my town (Tarpon Springs, FL) logged 22F on 1/21/1985 and 30F on 1/22/1985.

So...I am glad I wasnt here :D

It seems most of the all time records around here were set in 1962.  19F in the case of Tarpon Springs, 18F at the Tampa AP, and 22F for Albert Whitted AP in St. Pete.

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spockvr6

(syersj @ Aug. 10 2006,20:32)

QUOTE

(BobbyinNY @ Aug. 10 2006,10:41)

QUOTE
This is a VERY depressing subject :(

Don't worry Bobby, south Florida (Miami area) never got below 31 or 32 during this freeze.  If you moved to South FL or the keys, I don't think you would ever have to worry about it.

Yeah...not too many worries down there.  All one has to do is look at whats growing on the side of the road if they need more proof.

The Miami AP did log some nastiness in 1989, but it was still relatively decent compared to most other areas.

12/25/1989 did tie the all time low of 30F though---

12/23/1989 - 37F

12/24/1989 - 31F

12/25/1989 - 30F

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spockvr6

And just to show whos boss on mainland USA--

Key West, FL AP

12/23/1989 - 53F

12/24/1989 - 44F

12/25/1989 - 46F

12/26/1989 - 47F

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NBTX11

(BobbyinNY @ Aug. 10 2006,22:38)

QUOTE
Don't worry Bobby, south Florida (Miami area) never got below 31 or 32 during this freeze.  If you moved to South FL or the keys, I don't think you would ever have to worry about it.
I know... that's why I know I won't be happy anywhere else.. Even If I moved to someplace like Daytona.. I'll feel like I've "Settled" because I'll always be worried about stuff I've planted... I really need to be from Ft. Laud on south... Well, I've gotten the wife from Charlotte to St. Augustine... it's just  a matter of time.. :)

I have an coworker that lived in Homestead and he says that area is booming again with houses being built up and stuff.  That was the area devastated by Hurricane Andrew.  That's as far south as you can get without being in the keys.  May want to look there.  Been down there, the Redlands area is really nice, IMO.  Properties with land to plant on.  Course I think it's fairly expensive there, but I am not sure.

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BobbyinNY
I have an coworker that lived in Homestead and he says that area is booming again with houses being built up and stuff.  That was the area devastated by Hurricane Andrew.  That's as far south as you can get without being in the keys.  May want to look there.  Been down there, the Redlands area is really nice, IMO.  Properties with land to plant on.  Course I think it's fairly expensive there, but I am not sure.

Yeah,

Larry... I was down at Ken Johnon's place down there last December... very nice - I didn't really look around at land prices, but I'm sure it can't be as much as the keys - they're really out of control - it's more expensive than where I am now - and this is one of the most expensive counties in the country.

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BobbyinNY

Last Post... sorry, I meant Jim.. lol

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Alan_Tampa

Those record lows for Miami are crap.  The airport is almost in the water.  Go about 10 miles or so inland, away from the urban sprawl, and the record lows are more like upper 20"s.  Miami's coastal areas are certainly a touch warmer, but to compare the "offcial" lows of the area with the official lows of say Tampa or St. Pete, one must note the immediate area such records were measured.  

A friend in the redlands area has told me about 24F nights spent running sprinklers in the mango groves, more than one year.

Alan

Also, more than one coconut and royal predate the 80's freezes in St. Pete,.

The '62  freeze was BAD.  A friend who lived in Ybor remembers FROZEN puddles waiting for the bus during that freeze.  That is like a pig who can talk teaching French to hamsters in its insanity.

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spockvr6

(Alan_Tampa @ Aug. 11 2006,15:23)

QUOTE
Those record lows for Miami are crap.  The airport is almost in the water.  

The same holds true for the Tampa/St. Pete readings as well.  St. Pete's station is almost artificial in its readings when compared to locations but 5 minutes away.

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SubTropicRay

At Tampa Int'l Apt.

I hate admitting this stuff.

Dates,     Lowest Temp.,            Freezing nights

Feb. 4,5, 1958     24     2

Dec. 12-14, 1962     18     3

Jan. 30,31, 1966     24     2

Jan. 8-11, 1970     24    4

Jan. 20,21, 1971     23    2

Jan. 18-22, 1977     26    5

Jan. 12-14, 1981     22   3

Jan. 11,12, 1982     24   2

Dec. 25-27, 1983     19   3

Jan. 21-23, 1985     21   3

Dec. 26, 27, 1985     27   2

Dec. 23-25, 1989     24   3

Feb. 4,5, 1996     25   2

Bobby, according to John Bishock (who lived in Coral Gables in 1989), Fairchild was below freezing that year.  He says the smell of rotting vegetation was widespread throughout Miami that December.  This type of event is infrequent but does occur.

Ray

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spockvr6

Ray - Can you imagine what the readings were on those nights mentioned above in the outlying areas?

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spockvr6

(Alan_Tampa @ Aug. 11 2006,15:23)

QUOTE
The '62  freeze was BAD.  A friend who lived in Ybor remembers FROZEN puddles waiting for the bus during that freeze.  That is like a pig who can talk teaching French to hamsters in its insanity.

Believe it or not, in the Jan 2001 radiational freeze, I saw the same thing in interior Tampa where I work (out by I75 and Fletcher).   Granted, they were shallow puddles, but it was rather shocking to see.

I also distinctly remember seeing 24F on my car thermometer at the Hillsborough/Pinellas county line on Tarpon Springs Rd. that morning while driving to work.    When I left my house over by Alt 19 in Tarpon Springs, the car thermometer read 33F.  While these numbers might not be NWS accurate coming from a car thermometer, they provide a relative differential.  

And, if memory serves, the reported low at Albert Whitted was only in the lower 40's!   Dang do I wish I was another mile west  :(

These interior rural areas get cold quickly on radiational nights.

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NBTX11

(Alan_Tampa @ Aug. 11 2006,15:23)

QUOTE
Those record lows for Miami are crap.  The airport is almost in the water.  Go about 10 miles or so inland, away from the urban sprawl, and the record lows are more like upper 20"s.  Miami's coastal areas are certainly a touch warmer, but to compare the "offcial" lows of the area with the official lows of say Tampa or St. Pete, one must note the immediate area such records were measured.  

A friend in the redlands area has told me about 24F nights spent running sprinklers in the mango groves, more than one year.

Alan

Also, more than one coconut and royal predate the 80's freezes in St. Pete,.

The '62  freeze was BAD.  A friend who lived in Ybor remembers FROZEN puddles waiting for the bus during that freeze.  That is like a pig who can talk teaching French to hamsters in its insanity.

Hey Bobby, now your limited to the keys!  They say south Florida even gets cold once in a while.  Seriously though, I have no idea how the Redlands ever got to 24F considering all the tender stuff that is being grown there.  There is just field after field of tender vegitation, palms, fruits, vegetables, etc.  It would have been slaughter if it did actually get to 24 and we would have heard about it.  Just my 2 cents, not discounting those who are there.

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chris78

To look at how cold outline areas may get, I use agriculture reporting stations that are from the cooler areas. Most of my report are for AZ but I have a few old ones from Florida.

In the freeze of Jan 20, 1977 some stations in Palm Beach county reported lows as low as 21F.....in Broward county as low as 22F and in Dade county down to 23F in the Redlands Ag areas. and in the freeze of Dec 26, 1983 which is my last report, low in the agriculture areas in these counties were as low as 23F in Palm Beach county to 27F in Dade county.

Some unoffical ag statons reported even lower temperatures... Many farmers reported major damage to winter vegetables and even fruit damage on citrus. And many mango growers reported major tree damage and the killing outright of young newly plant mango trees.

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Alan_Tampa

The growers in the redlands use overhead irrigation on bad nights.  My friend I spoke of is an expert at such things and is called in for cold nights by some growers, for pretty good change.  

Alan

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ruskinPalms

(Ray, Tampa @ Aug. 11 2006,19:51)

QUOTE
At Tampa Int'l Apt.

I hate admitting this stuff.

Dates,     Lowest Temp.,            Freezing nights

Feb. 4,5, 1958     24     2

Dec. 12-14, 1962     18     3

Jan. 30,31, 1966     24     2

Jan. 8-11, 1970     24    4

Jan. 20,21, 1971     23    2

Jan. 18-22, 1977     26    5

Jan. 12-14, 1981     22   3

Jan. 11,12, 1982     24   2

Dec. 25-27, 1983     19   3

Jan. 21-23, 1985     21   3

Dec. 26, 27, 1985     27   2

Dec. 23-25, 1989     24   3

Feb. 4,5, 1996     25   2

Bobby, according to John Bishock (who lived in Coral Gables in 1989), Fairchild was below freezing that year.  He says the smell of rotting vegetation was widespread throughout Miami that December.  This type of event is infrequent but does occur.

Ray

So, what was the deal with the 80's? It seemed to be a cold period. Is there some sort of long wave period that the climate follows? Does it correlate with celestial events? Seems that it has been rather balmy here lately then and we may be due for a low to mid 20's nigth within the next few years...

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ruskinPalms

How cold can it get in the Florida Royal palm's natural habitat? Seems that they should have been wiped out from the peninsula after some of these freezes.

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ruskinPalms

(cryptobionic @ Aug. 09 2006,23:47)

QUOTE
It was bad, no doubt. It's one of the two reasons which cured my original Palm fascination. My neighbor recorded 11 degrees up here in the Florida Alps. I lost every palm in my makeshift greenhouse, most of my planted palms (which were many, I was a real Palm Pig back then), including all my Queens. Only 3 of my Washingtonias survived. It was balmy a few days before and after this devastating event, I think that compounded the damage to tropicals. Bottle-brush trees were as common as Ligustrum in Central Florida landscapes, virtually every one of them died immediately, all victims of bark that literally burst. There was somewhat of a mass depression afterwards, because no matter where you went, brown gooey globs cloaked every neighborhood, Even more temperate plants showed damage.

Some surprising survivors in my garden:

     Livistona australis: barely even a chlorotic cold spot.  

     Chamaedorea elegans: burned leaves, but regrew like troopers.

This account is all the more reason to plant the tender stuff like Royals and coconuts. If the staples like Syragus and Washingtonia are blitzed by the major freezes then you may as well go for the tropicals because it seems most palms will all perish in a major freeze anyway! If I get 5 years between coconuts then oh well. Besides, royals and coconuts are quite lovely when young anyway. (although it would be nice to hang a hammock between a couple of cocnuts someday!)

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spockvr6

(ruskinPalms @ Aug. 12 2006,21:43)

QUOTE
How cold can it get in the Florida Royal palm's natural habitat?

20's easily Bill!

I have watched the NWS graphics (which detail overnight lows) with keen interest during the winter months and have noted many times where the overnight lows are colder in the central part of deep southern FL than up here.  But, it warms up faster there.

It still baffles me how an area in the middle of the Everglades can get that cold, even if only briefly.

In the end...the best judge of climate is shown by the number and size of certain indicator plants/palms IMO.

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spockvr6

Heres an example that I happened to haved saved.  

These graphics were the Jan 8, 2006 overnight low forecasts.   30's pretty much all the way down to the southern tip, yet even in my location 1.5 miles from the Gulf much farther north it did not drop below 40F.  The warmer locations very close to water stayed in the middle/upper 40's.

But again.....look what grows down there compared to here, so take these graphics with a grain of salt.  Climate-wise in the long run, Id take the climate down there any day.

s-sat.jpg

sat.jpg

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NBTX11

(Alan_Tampa @ Aug. 12 2006,19:56)

QUOTE
The growers in the redlands use overhead irrigation on bad nights.  My friend I spoke of is an expert at such things and is called in for cold nights by some growers, for pretty good change.  

Alan

OK, I wasn't discounting what you said, I just didn't know that stuff could be kept alive at 24F.  But, since this probably only happens once in a long, long while (decades?), it would be worth it to keep your fields alive, no matter how much it costs, if the option is losing everything you had.

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NBTX11

(Ray, Tampa @ Aug. 11 2006,19:51)

QUOTE
At Tampa Int'l Apt.

I hate admitting this stuff.

Dates,     Lowest Temp.,            Freezing nights

Feb. 4,5, 1958     24     2

Dec. 12-14, 1962     18     3

Jan. 30,31, 1966     24     2

Jan. 8-11, 1970     24    4

Jan. 20,21, 1971     23    2

Jan. 18-22, 1977     26    5

Jan. 12-14, 1981     22   3

Jan. 11,12, 1982     24   2

Dec. 25-27, 1983     19   3

Jan. 21-23, 1985     21   3

Dec. 26, 27, 1985     27   2

Dec. 23-25, 1989     24   3

Feb. 4,5, 1996     25   2

Bobby, according to John Bishock (who lived in Coral Gables in 1989), Fairchild was below freezing that year.  He says the smell of rotting vegetation was widespread throughout Miami that December.  This type of event is infrequent but does occur.

Ray

Looks like Tampa averages a hard freeze once every 4-5 years, and also it's been about 10 years since the last one.

Uh-oh...is one coming soon?

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cfkingfish

This info is from John Bishock:

Fairchild in 1989 - hit 26, then 28 the next night...I think it was Dec 24th and 25th. It was a short drop, but apparently the following plants lived through it:

Heterospathe spp.

Ptychosperma spp.

Trunking Licuala species

What didn't live:

Pigafetta! Apparently they turned to muck overnight.

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happ

Pretty much anybody whose lived in California for a long time remembers the arctic invasion in late December 1990.  Several nights in the 30's [colder inland]; frost wiped out papaya/badly burned bananas.  I wasn't growing many tropical's back then but even ficus trees on city streets showed evidence of damage.  The citrus/avocado industry was hit hard.  That was the last frost for many coastal gardens.  

1978 and 1987 experienced minimums in low/mid 30's and some below freezing temperatures in the San Fernando/San Gabriel valleys.

March 2006 broke records for cold in Cali and triggered deciduous reactions normally not observed.

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bgl

Actually, there were TWO hard freezes in 1990 in SoCal and it was the first one that got me in the Hawaii mood! I go out for a run every morning, and one of the things I keep track of is the temperature. My database running log goes back to 1985 so I have info going way back.

Anyway, we lived in Poway, CA, in 1990, and when we woke up on the morning of Feb. 15, 1990, it was 22F. (And in mid March, one month later, I was over the on Big Island looking for property...). Then, on Dec. 26, 1990, same thing: 22F early in the morning. I believe it was the Feb freeze that caused the most damage.

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happ

(bgl @ Aug. 13 2006,01:56)

QUOTE
Actually, there were TWO hard freezes in 1990 in SoCal and it was the first one that got me in the Hawaii mood! I go out for a run every morning, and one of the things I keep track of is the temperature. My database running log goes back to 1985 so I have info going way back.

Anyway, we lived in Poway, CA, in 1990, and when we woke up on the morning of Feb. 15, 1990, it was 22F. (And in mid March, one month later, I was over the on Big Island looking for property...). Then, on Dec. 26, 1990, same thing: 22F early in the morning. I believe it was the Feb freeze that caused the most damage.

Yes the 1990 freeze is well-documented as a once-in-50-year event.  A UC-Berkeley study many years ago rated the likelihood of below 40 minimums at one-in-six year and frost/freezing every 11 years for Los Angeles.  Most people had never experienced ice on their swimming pools and damage to so much plant life.

Dec 20 1990 ushered an arctic air mass into California due to a rare configuration of high pressure systems over Alaska/Yukon.  Here's the data from my station:

Dec 20:  55F-40F

Dec 21: 51F-38F

Dec 22: 52F-30F

Dec 23: 53F-30F

Dec 24: 65F-37F

The readings are at a elevation around 900F; normally considered a "safe" foothill region.  Downtown LA&LAX etc remained above freezing but many low-lying valley areas dropped into the 20's.  

Actually the cold weather in Feb 1990 was very chilly but far from devastating due to moisture.  A Gulf of Alaska system quickly spun down the West Coast with low snow levels and temperatures.

Feb 14: 54F-38F T.

Feb 15: 58F-37F

Feb 16: 53F-38F 0.44

Feb 17: 55F-42F 2.10

1990 was a year to remember that at latitude 33 winter can be harsh for subtropicals.

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NBTX11

Has there ever been a recorded trace of snow (or more) at LAX airport.  What about other areas of coastal So Cal.

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bgl

It was snowing in Poway, CA, on the morning of Feb. 14, 1990, but it pretty much melted as soon as it hit the ground.

Also, in reference to Happ's temps for Dec 1990, we did have a low of 28F in Poway on Dec. 22, 1990, but the coldest night of Dec 1990 was between Dec 25-26, since we had 22F early in the morning of the 26th. It was a clear morning, so no chance of snow. And that was fairly normal on cold nights. They were typically clear.

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happ

Those are frightening temperatures bgl  :o   I have a nephew who just bought a house in Poway; he may want to limit his garden to native palms that are so boring.  

I don't know if it has ever snowed at LAX but downtown received several inches in 1950, I believe.  Both the airport and USC have recorded below freezing temps.  There are areas, particularly San Diego bay/LA south-facing foothills that have yet to drop below freezing.  But some of are relatively recent developed areas with weather stations less than 50 years old.

The two December 1990 nights of 30F is my all-time record low.  Ironically June 1990 was when I recorded my all-time highest maximum of 112F  :angry:

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Jeff Searle

Bill,

   I was around with the nursery during the 85 and 89 freezes. First, I don't recall any royals getting damaged.

    I am in Broward county, due west of Ft. Laud.  From what I remember is, I had about 25 degrees that coldest morning during the 85 freeze.  But, the worst freeze was definitly in 1989. The wind blew for 3 days straight, and we had in the upper 20's. I will never forget, we had Phoenix roebelenii's growing in the ground and were burned so bad, it looked like someone had put a blowtorch to them. They were really brown! What we do is, watch the thermometer, and pray for some light breeze. If the night air is still, then you have a better chance of frost forming. Frost is known to form at 35 degrees. When we do see some light frost on the ground or plants, we then turn our irrigation pumps on, just idle speed, enough to cover the plants.The plants then will ice up completly and this actually acts as an insulation to the leaves, and will prevent the plant leaves from getting any colder. We leave the water running until the sun comes up and the ice completly melts off. This can be as late as 11:00am.

   This is always a very,very long night,with little to no sleep.

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bgl

Happ,

What street, or area, is your nephew in? Poway covers a large area and there are a lot of micro-climates. Just being up-the-hill, or down-the-hill (within a distance of 600 ft or so) could mean the difference between, say, 32F or 26F on a cold night.

Bo-Göran

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Jeff Searle

Also I forgot to mention, was anyone down here in South Fla. when it SNOWED in 1977 ? I was still sleeping that morning when my father called me to tell me,and to go outside to look. Little snow flakes were actually coming down!! This is the only recorded snow fall in S. Fla. on record.

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