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ruskinPalms

Worst freezes ever

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SubTropicRay

Jim,

Things have changed up here..or so it seems.  The 96 freeze was damaging but not widespread.  The last major one was 1989 which is almost 20 years ago.  The recent stretch of time without a widespread freeze is unprecedented in NWS records dating back to 1890.  It's no coincidence that this coincides with the urbanization of the area.

All of that said, our luck could run out this year. 

Ray

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spockvr6

(Ray, Tampa @ Aug. 14 2006,08:38)

QUOTE
All of that said, our luck could run out this year. 

Ray

No! No! No!

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spockvr6

(Ray @ Tampa,Aug. 14 2006,08:38)

QUOTE
 The recent stretch of time without a widespread freeze is unprecedented in NWS records dating back to 1890.  It's no coincidence that is coincides with the urbanization of the area.

Just today I read that between 1970 and 2000, the population of FL has tripled.

But, I have to wonder, since the majority of the worst freezes have been advective ones, if this makes much difference in the end with the "long term zone defining" temperatures.

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spockvr6

(Ray @ Tampa,Aug. 14 2006,08:38)

QUOTE
 The 96 freeze was damaging but not widespread.  

Ray - How did your area fare during that event?  I lived in Ft. Lauderdale at the time, so I have no first hand info about the Tampa Bay area.

But, I did happen to take manual temperature logs back then and I still have the spreadsheet.   It dropped to 37.8F at my house in Ft. Lauderdale during that cold event.   (I lived roughly 1.5-2.0 miles SW of the airport).  I distinctly recall standing outside wearing a heavy jacket with some of my neighbors and enjoying the "novelty" of it.  Of course, I would not enjoy such a "novelty" these days.  But, I would certainly enjoy it if 37.8F was indeed but a novelty as it is not such around here!

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BobbyinNY
Ray - How did your area fare during that event?  I lived in Ft. Lauderdale at the time, so I have no first hand info about the Tampa Bay area.

But, I did happen to take manual temperature logs back then and I still have the spreadsheet.   It dropped to 37.8F at my house in Ft. Lauderdale during that cold event.   (I lived roughly 1.5-2.0 miles SW of the airport).  I distinctly recall standing outside wearing a heavy jacket with some of my neighbors and enjoying the "novelty" of it.  Of course, I would not enjoy such a "novelty" these days.  But, I would certainly enjoy it if 37.8F was indeed but a novelty as it is not such around here

I was living in Tamarac in 89 and remember it vividly... FPL and the rolling blackouts - I remember not being able to use my oven on Christmas day :(

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SubTropicRay

Larry,

The Florida west coast did not get the brunt of the cold that the east coast got in 1989.  John Bishock recorded a low of 26F at his old home in Coral Gables near Fairchild.  My low some 200 miles north was 24F.  Directly across the state from us on the Space Coast (Melbourne down to Vero) had lows hovering around 20F.  The 1983 freeze was by far the worst in recent years for the Fl west coast.  The east coast was warmer that year.

Ray

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spockvr6

(Ray, Tampa @ Aug. 14 2006,14:52)

QUOTE
Larry,

The Florida west coast did not get the brunt of the cold that the east coast got in 1989.  John Bishock recorded a low of 26F at his old home in Coral Gables near Fairchild.  My low some 200 miles north was 24F.  Directly across the state from us on the Space Coast (Melbourne down to Vero) had lows hovering around 20F.  

Ray

I just did some digging, and it looks like 12/24/89 was the worst day of that event.  Tampa logged 24F and even Albert Whitted logged 27F.

Yet...suspiciously, the Tarpon Springs station logged 28F.

As you noted, December 25-27, 1983 is showing far far worse data.

Tampa - 20, 19, data missing

Tarpon Springs - 22, 21, 21

Albert Whitted - 24, 26, 26

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SunnyFl

(spockvr6 @ Aug. 12 2006,22:02)

QUOTE
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.

Those graphics are interesting - looks as if parts of S. FL might have gone lower than Pinellas, the southern half anyway.

And remember the infamous Valentine's Day cold snap - when there were frost and/or freeze advisories for every county in FL, except Pinellas and the Keys.  On the NWS site that night, I couldn't believe it, the Fcast Disc - even for Homestead - had advisories posted, but we didn't.

OTOH, we fared a bit worse than Dade and E. Broward in the '89 debacle.  

As for the 90's, I don't recall any freeze damage where I am.  I had several tropicals but no palms - but others nearby with adonidias and lutescens didn't seem to have any damage that I could see.

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SunnyFl

(Ray @ Tampa,Aug. 14 2006,08:38)

QUOTE
Jim,

Things have changed up here..or so it seems.  The 96 freeze was damaging but not widespread.  The last major one was 1989 which is almost 20 years ago.  The recent stretch of time without a widespread freeze is unprecedented in NWS records dating back to 1890.  It's no coincidence that this coincides with the urbanization of the area.

All of that said, our luck could run out this year. 

Ray

That's exactly what I'm afraid of - that our luck will run out.  

Our lack of freezes definitely owes, at least in part, to the increased urbanization - we've created a heat island even in Pinellas.  The increased air traffic in and out of the St. Pete/Clw airport adds to it.

But did you see the wx maps this weekend?  A cold front sagged down into the mid-Atlantic, causing concerns - as far south as Maryland - that it could break the long-standing record for low temps at this time of year.

That the cold fronts could be having this kind of (unusual) impact so far south is not good news.  According to global-warming ideas, the change in the climate is worse as you go closer to the poles, but even here, we could be in for some destabilization - and more unpredictable winter temps.

Larry, did you ever tell me where you got those awesome heaters? :P

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happ

(bgl @ Aug. 13 2006,22:46)

QUOTE
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

Bo-Göran

I haven't seen his house yet; don't believe he has moved in yet.

Your point about elevation is right on.  I live at the top of a fairly steep hill.  Last frost was 16 years ago.  But drive down into the lowest areas of the canyon below and I see frost on roof tops several times each winter.

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ruskinPalms

Thanks for the input from California. It seems that So Cali rarely gets below 30 degrees F -- must be nice, I am jealous! It must be a beautiful tropical paradise out there. I know that you folks in Cali have a hard time with Cocos Nuifera but, eh, who cares - you can grow so many other wonderful things! Texas, I have not heard much from you. I think you have the same problem as Florida - several years of 10AB weather then BOOM 8AB. I think you pretty much have the same stuff growing in texas as in florida - Syragus and Washintonia - never a long term crown shaft to be seen - but hey, texas and florida are pleasant places to live overall. It is surprising the low temps reported in south florida in this post during freezes. But, there must be some magic in miami as I go there frequently and it mezmerizes me every time with how "tropical" it is. Even in west miami suberbs and inland.

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NBTX11

(ruskinPalms @ Aug. 15 2006,01:03)

QUOTE
Thanks for the input from California. It seems that So Cali rarely gets below 30 degrees F -- must be nice, I am jealous! It must be a beautiful tropical paradise out there. I know that you folks in Cali have a hard time with Cocos Nuifera but, eh, who cares - you can grow so many other wonderful things! Texas, I have not heard much from you. I think you have the same problem as Florida - several years of 10AB weather then BOOM 8AB. I think you pretty much have the same stuff growing in texas as in florida - Syragus and Washintonia - never a long term crown shaft to be seen - but hey, texas and florida are pleasant places to live overall. It is surprising the low temps reported in south florida in this post during freezes. But, there must be some magic in miami as I go there frequently and it mezmerizes me every time with how "tropical" it is. Even in west miami suberbs and inland.

You are 100% correct about Texas.  We, like FL, are vulnerable to the cold fronts that come barreling south.  If it weren't for these occasional fronts, we could grow an amazing variety of palms.  Most of the winter it is sunny, warm, and nice in South Texas, in fact we usually have some of the warmest weather in the country in winter (the national high is usually in Texas in the winter).  The coastal areas will go for years being zone 10a or even 10b for deep S. TX and zone 9 for inland TX.  But all it takes is one bad winter front.  Someone may correct me, I don't have the data in front of me, but I don't think we have seen any real serious cold since 89.  Where's Richard Travis, he has all the data on the history of S. Texas freezes.  Deep S. TX can grow all of the tender varieties like royals, foxtails, even cocos nucifera, -- at least until another one of these freezes.  Climate there is a lot like Central FL, if you can grow it in Orlando, Tampa, Melbourne, etc, you can grow it in deep S. Texas.  I equate San Antonio/Houston and inland areas of S. Texas more with Jacksonville and North Florida climate wise.

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NBTX11

(Ray, Tampa @ Aug. 14 2006,08:38)

QUOTE
Jim,

Things have changed up here..or so it seems.  The 96 freeze was damaging but not widespread.  The last major one was 1989 which is almost 20 years ago.  The recent stretch of time without a widespread freeze is unprecedented in NWS records dating back to 1890.  It's no coincidence that this coincides with the urbanization of the area.

All of that said, our luck could run out this year. 

Ray

I used to live in tampa (actually Brandon).  I know what you mean about the urbanization.  Brandon used to be a sleepy village 20-30 years ago, now it is a HUGE suburb.

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happ

(ruskinPalms @ Aug. 15 2006,01:03)

QUOTE
Thanks for the input from California. It seems that So Cali rarely gets below 30 degrees F -- must be nice, I am jealous! It must be a beautiful tropical paradise out there. I know that you folks in Cali have a hard time with Cocos Nuifera but, eh, who cares - you can grow so many other wonderful things! Texas, I have not heard much from you. I think you have the same problem as Florida - several years of 10AB weather then BOOM 8AB. I think you pretty much have the same stuff growing in texas as in florida - Syragus and Washintonia - never a long term crown shaft to be seen - but hey, texas and florida are pleasant places to live overall. It is surprising the low temps reported in south florida in this post during freezes. But, there must be some magic in miami as I go there frequently and it mezmerizes me every time with how "tropical" it is. Even in west miami suberbs and inland.

ruskinPalms

Hate to admit it but California is "no beautiful paradise" as it pertains to tropical plants.  For example coconut palms don't do well at all with very rare exceptions.

It may not drop below freezing and frost is relatively uncommon in favored micro-climates but winter in California is essentially cool and wet; not a good combination for the survival of tropical plants.  For example, poinciana that flower into magnificent trees in Florida only spout leaves here unless you happen to live in the low desert.  I have been relatively successful with a bethel nut palm and cold hardy heliconia flower nicely but many other plants that thrive in Florida do not in California.

The primary reason is that our wet season is in winter.  Plus the much higher latitude mean shorter winter days.  I'm in USDA 11 due to the fact of elevation, south-facing hillside and regular offshore winds at night.  Temps below 40 are not common but nights in the 40's average over 40 times a year.  Winter minimums in SoFlorida rarely drop below 50.  It's ironic that an arctic blast can penetrate Florida more easily than SoCal due to high mountain ranges but Florida is at least 10 degrees warmer than California nearly all year, on average.  Chilly N. Pacific storms leave the soil wet and cold; not a favorable combination.  Summers can be hot but bone dry so irrigation is a must.  Most subtropical plants grow much slower in California than in Florida and perhaps Texas.

Given the choice of weather conditions for growing healthy palms and tropical plants, I'd have to pick Florida over California.   :(

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bgl

And one additional, very important, difference is the temperature of the nearby ocean. The Pacific Ocean by California is cool, if not outright cold, and this has a general cooling effect on the weather. In Florida, apart from being further south, the Gulf Stream is right there, with a VERY warm current of water flowing by the coastline, 12 months of the year. Having grown up and lived in Sweden for many years I know what a dramatic effect this has on the climate!

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SunnyFl

(bgl @ Aug. 17 2006,01:16)

QUOTE
In Florida, apart from being further south, the Gulf Stream is right there, with a VERY warm current of water flowing by the coastline, 12 months of the year. Having grown up and lived in Sweden for many years I know what a dramatic effect this has on the climate!

You grew up in Sweden?  I was going to ask you about that after I saw the name Lundkvist on your garden - nice Swedish name, it sounded like :)

My grandmother's family was from Sweden.  What was it like to live there?  It seems such an idyllic place - if you can tolerate the weather.

Interesting point you made about the Pacific being cooler, and the advantages of our warm ocean (and gulf) currents in FL.  But that overheated water in the summertime causes us a lot of tropical trouble as well.

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bgl

SunnyFl,

Yes, I guess you could describe life in Sweden as 'idyllic' compared to the USA, even though no one there would use that word! But everything there is much more organized, and they like it that way. The weather in southern Sweden, where I grew up, is actually fairly mild. The typical winter in New York, for instance, is harsher (but shorter). And again, the reason is the presence of the Gulf Stream, which is actually about 600-700 miles away from southern Sweden. I have been up in northern Norway on numerous occasions. That's about 300 miles north of the Arctic Circle, same latitude as Point Barrow in Alaska. The Gulf Stream, which even though it has weakened somewhat at that point, still has a major impact on the weather there. The summer, which admittedly is short, can be very beautiful with temps in the 70s. Point Barrow would never even get close to 70F! Plus, there's never any ice in any of the harbors or fjords of northern Norway. Again, thanks to the Gulf Stream.

Another interesting comparison, talking about ocean temps, is southern Florida and Hawaii. The Pacific Ocean around Hawaii is relatively cool compared to the water surrounding SoFL. This is why the (air) temp here VERY seldom will go over 90F even though we are further south, and why most hurricanes approaching islands will fizzle out before they arrive.

Bo-Göran

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NBTX11

(bgl @ Aug. 17 2006,13:02)

QUOTE
Another interesting comparison, talking about ocean temps, is southern Florida and Hawaii. The Pacific Ocean around Hawaii is relatively cool compared to the water surrounding SoFL. This is why the (air) temp here VERY seldom will go over 90F even though we are further south, and why most hurricanes approaching islands will fizzle out before they arrive.

Bo-Göran

Most people tend to think of Hawaii as way farther south than south Florida, but actually it is not, they are fairly close in latitude.  Key west is 24 degrees N, while most of the islands are 20-22 degrees N.  Nearly the same latitude.  That is probably due to the perception that Hawaii is a "tropical" location.

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Walt

The all-time low in my county (Highlands County, Florida) is 13 degrees, recorded at the Archbold Biological Station (see their website). The low WAS NOT recorded during any of the advective freezes of the '80s or before, but rather during the radiational freeze of January 5, 2001.

I recorded 22 degrees that morning, my all-time low in the nine years I've lived here.

The coldest advective freeze I've had in nine years was one day in late January of 2003, when my low was 29.5 degrees.

So, my worst freezes are radiational. Folks all around me at higher elevation and around the lakes fare so much better, most times having no frost damage each winter. But, these areas had more damage than I did on the January 2003 advective freeze. I think much of that damage was cold wind burn (dessication).

So when the next big advective freeze comes, it will be comforting to know that all the warmer places in my county are going to get hammered, not just me.

This is a coconut palm I photographed (with old film camera) days after the Jan. 5, 2001 advective freeze.

94208142PfHYuc_th.jpg

by waltcat100

This is the same coconut palm 21 months later:

2528706510042496162BWPkjR_th.jpg

by waltcat100

These are some royal palms growing at Labelle, Florida, that were damaged after the severe radiational freeze of Jan. 5, 2001. I saw this kind of damage almost all the way to the east side of I-75 in Ft. Myers! The day I took this photo I drove down to Ft. Myers to two different palm nurseries. Both nursery owners told me it dropped down to the low 20s east of I-75 in the unpopulated outlying areas. I saw many a fried queen sago, coconut palms, royal palms, mango trees, etc. to attest to this.

91755552VqsMep_th.jpg

by waltcat100

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happ

(Walt @ Aug. 17 2006,18:41)

QUOTE
The all-time low in my county (Highlands County, Florida) is 13 degrees, recorded at the Archbold Biological Station (see their website). The low WAS NOT recorded during any of the advective freezes of the '80s or before, but rather during the radiational freeze of January 5, 2001.

I recorded 22 degrees that morning, my all-time low in the nine years I've lived here.

The coldest advective freeze I've had in nine years was one day in late January of 2003, when my low was 29.5 degrees.

So, my worst freezes are radiational. Folks all around me at higher elevation and around the lakes fare so much better, most times having no frost damage each winter. But, these areas had more damage than I did on the January 2003 advective freeze. I think much of that damage was cold wind burn (dessication).

So when the next big advective freeze comes, it will be comforting to know that all the warmer places in my county are going to get hammered, not just me.

This is a coconut palm I photographed (with old film camera) days after the Jan. 5, 2001 advective freeze.

http://community.webshots.com/photo/1094208142042496162PfHYuc'>

by http://community.webshots.com/user....tcat100'>

This is the same coconut palm 21 months later:

http://community.webshots.com/photo/2528706510042496162BWPkjR'>

by http://community.webshots.com/user....tcat100'>

These are some royal palms growing at Labelle, Florida, that were damaged after the severe radiational freeze of Jan. 5, 2001. I saw this kind of damage almost all the way to the east side of I-75 in Ft. Myers! The day I took this photo I drove down to Ft. Myers to two different palm nurseries. Both nursery owners told me it dropped down to the low 20s east of I-75 in the unpopulated outlying areas. I saw many a fried queen sago, coconut palms, royal palms, mango trees, etc. to attest to this.

http://community.webshots.com/photo/1091755552042496162VqsMep'>

by http://community.webshots.com/user....tcat100'>

Fantastic recovery, Walt.   :P

If it ever got so cold in Los Angeles the damage to exotics would take longer to recover or the plant would outright die.  For example, it dropped to 38F in March 2006 [ranking March the 5th coldest on record].  The length of really/chilly late winter lows slowed down/ hypnotized/hyphenate(d).  Heliconia/musa/michelia = instantaneous anemia.  But palms/beaucarnea recurvata/areca catechu/archontophoenix cunninghamiana/howea forsteriana/wodyetia bifurcata/roystonea regia/veitchia arecina/euterpe edulis/phoenix roebellenii/ weren't damaged.  

Why plant cocos and be guilty of plant abuse?  I love  lipstick palms too much to expose them to the mid-latitudes.

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tropical1

I think the point to be made about south florida is regardless of what has happened in terms of freezes take a look at what is growing in the ground. There are some clear zone 10b-11 plants growing on the side of the road in Homestead with no protection. The temps typically quickly rebound and so do the palms. Also, I think durations of cold are much shorter in terms of # of hours below 32.

I agree with Ray though, the winters we have been experiencing in the Tampa Bay area are unprecedented historically. Hence we now have coconuts, royals and foxtails all over the place. They are even growing in areas well north of the city. Hopefully this is a long term trend for us as every landscaping project seems to be using them now.

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DoomsDave

(spockvr6 @ Aug. 10 2006,22:10)

QUOTE
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

I HATE them!

So depressing.  On the other hand, being right in the teeth of 'canes (not sugar) has to be a real bitch.

dave

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DoomsDave

(bgl @ Aug. 17 2006,13:02)

QUOTE
SunnyFl,

Yes, I guess you could describe life in Sweden as 'idyllic' compared to the USA, even though no one there would use that word! But everything there is much more organized, and they like it that way. The weather in southern Sweden, where I grew up, is actually fairly mild. The typical winter in New York, for instance, is harsher (but shorter). And again, the reason is the presence of the Gulf Stream, which is actually about 600-700 miles away from southern Sweden. I have been up in northern Norway on numerous occasions. That's about 300 miles north of the Arctic Circle, same latitude as Point Barrow in Alaska. The Gulf Stream, which even though it has weakened somewhat at that point, still has a major impact on the weather there. The summer, which admittedly is short, can be very beautiful with temps in the 70s. Point Barrow would never even get close to 70F! Plus, there's never any ice in any of the harbors or fjords of northern Norway. Again, thanks to the Gulf Stream.

Another interesting comparison, talking about ocean temps, is southern Florida and Hawaii. The Pacific Ocean around Hawaii is relatively cool compared to the water surrounding SoFL. This is why the (air) temp here VERY seldom will go over 90F even though we are further south, and why most hurricanes approaching islands will fizzle out before they arrive.

Bo-Göran

Bo:

Way back in prehistory, we had a guy on the west coast of Norway, who wanted to grow Rhopies, and had a truly bitchen, awesome, Mongo-inflamin' garden of Cordylines, hardy palms, and, well, when I told the girls, they just shook their pretty heads and kissed me, oh . . . .

Seriously.

That Gulf Stream rocks.

dave

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bgl

Dave,

as the saying goes, "good news, bad news'. The good news: you can grow a lot of tropical palms. The bad news: they may get blown clear across to Cuba in September...!

Bo-Göran

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bgl

Dave,

you posted that Norwegian story while I was responding to your Key West comment... Anyway, I lived in Norway many years ago...(my first wife was Norwegian). I would have known about that guy! :P

Bo-Göran

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ruskinPalms

(Walt @ Aug. 17 2006,18:41)

QUOTE
The all-time low in my county (Highlands County, Florida) is 13 degrees, recorded at the Archbold Biological Station (see their website). The low WAS NOT recorded during any of the advective freezes of the '80s or before, but rather during the radiational freeze of January 5, 2001.

I recorded 22 degrees that morning, my all-time low in the nine years I've lived here.

The coldest advective freeze I've had in nine years was one day in late January of 2003, when my low was 29.5 degrees.

So, my worst freezes are radiational. Folks all around me at higher elevation and around the lakes fare so much better, most times having no frost damage each winter. But, these areas had more damage than I did on the January 2003 advective freeze. I think much of that damage was cold wind burn (dessication).

So when the next big advective freeze comes, it will be comforting to know that all the warmer places in my county are going to get hammered, not just me.

This is a coconut palm I photographed (with old film camera) days after the Jan. 5, 2001 advective freeze.

http://community.webshots.com/photo/1094208142042496162PfHYuc'>

by http://community.webshots.com/user....tcat100'>

This is the same coconut palm 21 months later:

http://community.webshots.com/photo/2528706510042496162BWPkjR'>

by http://community.webshots.com/user....tcat100'>

These are some royal palms growing at Labelle, Florida, that were damaged after the severe radiational freeze of Jan. 5, 2001. I saw this kind of damage almost all the way to the east side of I-75 in Ft. Myers! The day I took this photo I drove down to Ft. Myers to two different palm nurseries. Both nursery owners told me it dropped down to the low 20s east of I-75 in the unpopulated outlying areas. I saw many a fried queen sago, coconut palms, royal palms, mango trees, etc. to attest to this.

http://community.webshots.com/photo/1091755552042496162VqsMep'>

by http://community.webshots.com/user....tcat100'>

Walt, there was a palm just like that coco in your pic in extreme north Manatee County just east of I-75 this spring. It has since repopulated all of its fronds at this point and it appears to be a normal coconut palm. Maybe coconut palm's foliage is tender to frost but the palm itself has some cold hardiness. Although, I am not really looking for deciduous palms for my garden...

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ruskinPalms

(happ @ Aug. 17 2006,00:47)

QUOTE

(ruskinPalms @ Aug. 15 2006,01:03)

QUOTE
Thanks for the input from California. It seems that So Cali rarely gets below 30 degrees F -- must be nice, I am jealous! It must be a beautiful tropical paradise out there. I know that you folks in Cali have a hard time with Cocos Nuifera but, eh, who cares - you can grow so many other wonderful things! Texas, I have not heard much from you. I think you have the same problem as Florida - several years of 10AB weather then BOOM 8AB. I think you pretty much have the same stuff growing in texas as in florida - Syragus and Washintonia - never a long term crown shaft to be seen - but hey, texas and florida are pleasant places to live overall. It is surprising the low temps reported in south florida in this post during freezes. But, there must be some magic in miami as I go there frequently and it mezmerizes me every time with how "tropical" it is. Even in west miami suberbs and inland.

ruskinPalms

Hate to admit it but California is "no beautiful paradise" as it pertains to tropical plants.  For example coconut palms don't do well at all with very rare exceptions.

It may not drop below freezing and frost is relatively uncommon in favored micro-climates but winter in California is essentially cool and wet; not a good combination for the survival of tropical plants.  For example, poinciana that flower into magnificent trees in Florida only spout leaves here unless you happen to live in the low desert.  I have been relatively successful with a bethel nut palm and cold hardy heliconia flower nicely but many other plants that thrive in Florida do not in California.

The primary reason is that our wet season is in winter.  Plus the much higher latitude mean shorter winter days.  I'm in USDA 11 due to the fact of elevation, south-facing hillside and regular offshore winds at night.  Temps below 40 are not common but nights in the 40's average over 40 times a year.  Winter minimums in SoFlorida rarely drop below 50.  It's ironic that an arctic blast can penetrate Florida more easily than SoCal due to high mountain ranges but Florida is at least 10 degrees warmer than California nearly all year, on average.  Chilly N. Pacific storms leave the soil wet and cold; not a favorable combination.  Summers can be hot but bone dry so irrigation is a must.  Most subtropical plants grow much slower in California than in Florida and perhaps Texas.

Given the choice of weather conditions for growing healthy palms and tropical plants, I'd have to pick Florida over California.   :(

Happ, if what you say is true then Florida will just break your heart anyway. If I have a few decent winters, I will have trunking coconuts in my backyard but they may perish the next year in an advective arctic blast. Whereas, in California, you at least can grow some crown shafted palms reliably. Personally, I think that crownshafted palms look more tropical.

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Dave-Vero

Here's the climate info from Archbold Biological Station, near Lake Placid, south of Sebring, on the Lake Wales Ridge:

http://www.archbold-station.org/abs/regionalecol/climate.htm

"Winters are moderate, with infrequent cold spells dropping below freezing only briefly in early morning. The lowest recorded temperature at the Station is 13 degrees Fahrenheit (-10.6 degrees Celsius) on 12 January 1982 and 5 January 2001. Snow was observed for the first time in the history of the Station on 19 January 1977."

Bottom line is, more or less, that it can get surprisingly cold, at least for brief periods.  A bad cold front can keep temperatures below freezing for a more extended period.  The 1977 one, if I remember correctly, massacred the Washingtonias in Lake City, on I-75 near the Georgia border.

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spockvr6

(tropical1 @ Aug. 17 2006,22:36)

QUOTE
I think the point to be made about south florida is regardless of what has happened in terms of freezes take a look at what is growing in the ground.

That is the bottom line IMO.

The final climate definition of ones own area can always been seen by just walking down the street.

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spockvr6

(Dave-Vero @ Aug. 18 2006,09:16)

QUOTE
Here's the climate info from Archbold Biological Station, near Lake Placid, south of Sebring, on the Lake Wales Ridge:

Dave - Ive watched that stations data in the past and it sure seems like an anomoly doesnt it?

Of course, it can get downright cold, in especially the inland areas away from water, but that station always seems to give a reading that is pretty much worst case scenario.

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Walt

Hi all,

Over the years at various boards I've heard many folks boast of how great their climate was, hardly any frost, etc. It was then I coined the term "Darnall's Dictum." (Darnall, being my last name.) Darnall's Dictum basicallhy asserts that one's climate is defined by the old mature tropical palms, trees, shrubs, etc. that are found growing in one's environs.

Darnall's Dictum applies here in Highlands County, Florida. The old (pre 2003) USDA zone map has 2/3s of Highlands County, rated as zone 9a. Further, the only towns in all of Highlands County (Avon Park, Sebring, and Lake Placid) reside in zone 9a.

However, what I find growing in the in-town areas and around the lakes belie, no, contradict the USDA's zone ratings.  50 year old royal palms, banyan trees et al prove beyond a doubt that their locations is not zone 9a. And the towns and lake areas are too large to refer to them as a "warm microclimate" as that would be an oxymoron. Unless, of course, you were comparing these areas to the state of Texas! Then it may be relative.

The above being said, though, I personally believe (based on all the climate data and weather station stats I've reviewed, and also my own empirical measurements, along with anecdotal tails I've been told by some of the old timers here, that Highlands County's zone rating varies from 8b to 10b, based sheerly on location most years. And of course, the 13 degree anomaly set at Archbold Biological Station rated those two years at zone 8a!

Jan. 5, 2001 was the worst (coldest and most frost) freeze I'v experienced in my nine years living in Florida (not counting the 13 months I was stations at Key West, Florida, while in the Navy. It droped to 47 degrees in Key West in January of 1971 and I experienced it first hand as I was camping up on Bahia Honda key with a camp fire and lots of spirits).

While Archobold Biological Station recorded 13 degrees Jan. 5, 2001, the town of Lake Placid (8 miles north of Archbold) didn't freeze. I drove into town and there was no damage, yet my place, just two miles from town and 70 feet lower in elevation was devastated.

This traveler's palm (need to get a current photo BTW) was not frost damaged the morning of 01/05/06, and it's in the town of Lake Placid, out in the open. Yet, my large white bird of paradise was fried, and it's a 1/2 zone more cold tolerant plant. I recorded 22 degrees that morning and estimate that up the hill in town was 10-12 warmer based mainly on the fact I found no freeze/frost damage to palms and tropicals.

59052155jsoGoM_th.jpg

by waltcat100

Coconuts in Sebring, Florida (and these were not hurt by the 2/14/06 freeze):

2544579370042496162OCfqwh_th.jpg

by waltcat100

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Dave-Vero

Archbold's weather station is on flat ground west of their hill.  The site may actually get a bit of cold air drainage and function as a frost pocket.

In Indian River County, it appears that the agricultural area around Fellsmere can get much colder on still nights than Vero Beach airport.  

On an entirely different scale, the Rockies have mega frost pockets and towns in them get those horrific cold temperatures.

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Walt

Dave-Vero: In a news paper article about two days after the 01/05/01 freeze, a meteorologist from the NWS at Ruskin even commented on how Archbold Biological Station is a cold spot in Highlands County.

In a different weather related article the same week the Executive Director of the Highlands County Citrus Association said the citrus groves on the Lake Wales Ridge run 10-11 degrees warmer than down off the ridge during radiational cooling nights (like 01/05/01).

This past 2/14/06 I checked the FAWN (Florida Automated Weather Network) site of Belle Glade, and FAWN was reporting a 14 degree temperature difference between 2 feet elevation and 30 feet elevation at their weather station tower. These figures really show how the air was stratified.

At my place, my pothos vines were defoliated up to about the 15 feet level (I have them running up many trees to about 40 feet). Further my Ficus altissima was also defoliated up to about the 12-15 feet level. This proved to me that the taller I can get my more tender palms the better off the crowns are going to be during a radiational freeze event.

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Dave-Vero

It's still creepy to see thriving decade-old royal poincianas and ficus trees, not to mention cold-sensitive palms, in Melbourne.  The barrier island climate is quite a bit more forgiving, as witnessed by old royal palms.  Yet if you look closely at the native gumbo limbo trees on southern Merritt Island, they've clearly regrown after severe freeze damage.  Their counterparts in Cocoa Beach simply died.  Up there, they had evidently survived in the hammocks.  Cut down the hammock and leave a few specimen trees, and they're vulnerable.

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Walt

This old royal in Avon Park (Fla.) bears freeze scares on its trunk. It survived the '89 freeze. Check out the palm's trunk in "View Full Size" to see it better:

394513063AUJytJ_th.jpg

by waltcat100

These for royal palms in Sebring (Fla.) also are survivors of the infamous '89 freeze and probably many more before that. You can see trunk damage quite easily:

359822417QuZJQG_th.jpg

by waltcat100

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Dave-Vero

Walt,

Impressive that those royals have thrived.  Among other things, they've become tall trees in a fairly lightning-heavy region. Royals here in Vero tend to have similarly ratty trunks, explaining why one near my house snapped in Frances.  

Of course most of the upland native vegetation in your area was very fire-prone and fire-controlled.  The Nature Conservancy's preserves at Tiger Creek and Saddle Blanket Lakes are gems, as is the public park at Hickory Lake.  Highlands Hammock State Park is restoring some pine flatwoods, which were looking really good earlier this year.   Lake Wales Ridge State Forest has done nicely, too.

Also a bit like Vero, you guys can grow "indica" azaleas, although the native pygmy fringe trees are arguably at least as pretty and easier to grow.

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happ

(Dave-Vero @ Aug. 18 2006,16:52)

QUOTE
It's still creepy to see thriving decade-old royal poincianas and ficus trees, not to mention cold-sensitive palms, in Melbourne.  The barrier island climate is quite a bit more forgiving, as witnessed by old royal palms.  Yet if you look closely at the native gumbo limbo trees on southern Merritt Island, they've clearly regrown after severe freeze damage.  Their counterparts in Cocoa Beach simply died.  Up there, they had evidently survived in the hammocks.  Cut down the hammock and leave a few specimen trees, and they're vulnerable.

Dave-Vero

Will you STOP with the vivid descriptions of poinciana; considered by many as the world's most beautiful tree in flower.  :P

Royals are relatively new palms for California.  The stands of regia in Miami Beach are breathtaking; column-size massive trunks.  

We garden aficionados grace the community with a legacy of fantastic trees.

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Walt

Dave-Vero: While thumbing through my photo albums I found a photo I took this year right after the Feb. 14th radiational freeze (Feb. 27th).

The photo below is an old royal palm that I would assume went through the Dec 1989 advective freezes. While the palm's trunk isn't the fattest or smoothest, it appears to be damage free.

Note the large powder puff shrub next to the royal. This shrub was at least 15 feet high.

There is a large lake behind the house, hence the royal palm and powder puff are under the influence of the "lake effect."  By contrast, my powder puff shrub was frozen down to the roots on 2/14. The lakes around here a like radiators during radiational freezes.

2253471830042496162uDKlIG_th.jpg

by waltcat100

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Walt

Also, I snapped this photo of some royals that escaped freeze/frost damage the morning of Feb. 14, 2006. These royals are at a lake front home (Lake Lotela) in Avon Park, Florida.

2046922990042496162tIDSKb_th.jpg

by waltcat100

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happ

Roystonea oleracea are giants  :o

Waiting for trunk formation on an 8' regia.  

Do ravenea grow fast?  I've heard that given plenty of water, the R. rivularis will shoot up quickly.  Planted a majesty within 5 feet of a large michelia and may regret it.

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