richtrav Posted October 1, 2021 Report Share Posted October 1, 2021 Last weekend I had the chance to drive down to Ciudad Victoria, around the Sierra de Tamaulipas and Sierra Madre, and as far south as Gomez Farias. I was really anxious to see what the cold damage looked like and how it might have compared to the extremely severe freeze of December 1989, which saw the low 20s driven to near the Tropic of Cancer at Victoria and Soto la Marina (spoiler alert: it wasn’t as bad). Starting out in Matamoros the damage looks about like urban Brownsville, it’s hard to see much difference, there was a surviving Thrinax radiata on the south side of a building on the southern side of town but damage to the royals is very similar to Brownsville and the coconuts in town parks are just a memory now. But as always there is an exception: surprisingly at the Holiday Inn there is a lone coconut which appears to be very much alive. The trunk looks incredibly good - too good to me, like they maybe protected it. But they certainly didn’t protect any royals in the parking lot, over half of them were very dead, so I don’t know what kind of treatment they may have given the coconut. It’s around the eastern side of the hotel, that may have helped a little. Given the stunted/singed look of the older leaves it went through some sort of freezing event so I doubt it was planted after February. As you leave Matamoros it’s obvious they were in a mild urban heat island, as you get south of town it looks as bad as most of Cameron County, there’s even a Bismarckia on the way out of the city that just barely survived, most of them in the Valley look better. For the first 20-25 miles south of town it looks about the same: most royals are dead, the tropical figs are burned back severely, typical low 20s kind of damage very similar to Texas right along the river. Subtly after that you start to notice maybe things start to look about like they did in Matamoros, then around a little place called El Miguelito you start to see some glimpses of moderation. Some of the figs and guamuchil (Pithecellobium dulce) trees start showing less dieback intermittently, not huge but noticeable enough. There are also more surviving royals. This area probably saw the mid-20s for a shorter duration than near the Rio Grande. The first coconut that looks like it had to make it on its own with no surrounding protection is at a small bend in the road called Santa Teresa, where there is also a surviving Norfolk pine and an old Sideroxylon palmeri that looks just as large now as it did in the mid-90s (not shown). Interestingly there are also what appear to be spontaneous Stenocereus huastecorum/griseus in the area now, I don’t remember those occurring before the San Fernando area in the past. Also a hybrid mesquite zone is found north of San Fernando now, if I remember correctly the first ones used to be south of town. Going farther south there is progressively less damage to guamuchil and the native fig (Ficus cotinifolia) though other figs were still showing some damage. Most royals were in noticeably better condition than those farther north. At the big Y junction where the Matamoros and Reynosa roads join/split there is a hotel that had several coconuts planted and they were slowly recovering. Starting from about the junction and continuing down to the area around San Fernando damage increasingly became confined to the really tropical plants like Benjamin figs. On the loop around San Fernando it was hard to make out much damage to relatively tender plants like Ficus nitida. It would have been interesting to go into San Fernando but the loop around town is so easy and the town’s reputation precedes it. A ranch outside town reported a low of 28 in the mid-February event and the damage is consistent with readings briefly in the upper 20s. From there the damage continues to diminish….. 9 7 Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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