Snow in Florida

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Ice and snow as seen from an FDOT camera on the Bay Bridge in Pensacola, Florida following a winter storm on 28-29 January 2014. Much of the Panhandle experienced significant ice buildup (from freezing rain & sleet) followed by a light snowfall.

It is rare for snow to fall in the U.S. state of Florida because freezing temperatures in Florida are generally caused by the cold and dry winds of anticyclones. Frost is more common than snow, requiring temperatures of 45 °F (7 °C) or less at 2 m (7 ft) above sea level, a cloudless sky, and a relative humidity of 65% or more.[1] In the general case, for snow to occur, the polar jet stream must move southward through Texas and into the Gulf of Mexico, with a stalled cold front across the southern portion of the state curving northeastward to combine freezing air into the frontal clouds.[2] While light snowfall occurs every few years across the northern panhandle and the north central peninsula, most of the state is in a rare portion of the continental United States that receives a mean maximum monthly snowfall amount of zero, the only other such areas being southern Texas and parts of California.[3]

Much of the known information on snow in Florida prior to 1900 is from weather climatology provided by the Jacksonville National Weather Service; for this reason, information for other locations is sparse.[1] The earliest recorded instance of snow in Florida was a snowstorm that occurred in 1774; being unaccustomed to snow, some Jacksonville residents called it "extraordinary white rain."[1] The first White Christmas in northeastern Florida's history resulted from a snowfall that occurred on December 23, 1989.[4]

Events[edit]

Due to increased populations and advanced communication networks, snow events are witnessed and reported more frequently in recent years. This should not be interpreted as a pattern of actual occurrence.

Pre-1900[edit]

Snowball fight on the steps of the Florida Capitol, February 1899
  • December 19, 1765: A "white frost", snow fell in northern East Florida "of short duration, and of no material detriment to the agricultural interests."[5]
  • 1774: A snowstorm extended across much of the territory. The affected residents spoke of it as an "extraordinary white rain."[1][6]
  • January 10/11, 1800: Land surveyor Andrew Ellicott erected an observatory at Point Peter, a location near the mouth of Saint Marys River, now in the far southeast side of the City of St. Marys, Georgia. After recording a sunrise temperature of 37 °F (3 °C), he observed "snow and hail the whole day" until 10 pm. The temperature then fell below freezing, the wind shifted to northwesterly, and the skies cleared at midnight. At sunrise the morning of January 11, he reported snow 5 inches (130 mm) deep and a temperature of 28 °F (−2 °C).[2][7] This snowstorm perhaps extended from Louisiana to Georgia.[8]
  • January 13, 1852: Snow fell all morning, accumulating to 0.5 inches (13 mm) at Jacksonville.[1]
  • February 28, 1855: A few flakes of snow fell at Jacksonville.[1]
  • January 29, 1868: Light sleet fell during the night at Jacksonville.[1]
  • February 28, 1869: During the morning, snow flurries fell at Jacksonville.[1]
  • January 10, 1873: At 7:25 am, a few snowflakes fell at Jacksonville.[1]
  • February 4/5, 1875: Between midnight and sunrise on both dates, light sleet occurred.[1]
  • December 1, 1876: According to the observer at Punta Rassa, Florida, snow fell for 5 minutes on the morning of December 1.[9]
  • January 4/5, 1879: At Jacksonville at 7 pm, sleet began, which turned to rain 90 minutes later. The freezing rain covered trees, shrubbery, and everything else outdoors by morning. The weight of the ice broke the limbs of many orange trees.[1] At Fernandina, snow occurred.[10]
  • December 5, 1886: At Pensacola, following a heavy rain and wind storm, light snow fell from 4:25 pm to 8:20 pm, accumulating to 1.5 inches (38 mm).[11]
  • January 5, 1887: 1 inch (25 mm) of snow fell at Pensacola,[12] and sleet fell elsewhere in the state.[13]
  • January 14, 1892: 0.4 inches (10 mm) of snow was reported at Pensacola.[12] The first snowfall of the season occurred at Fort Barrancas. Monthly snowfall totaled 0.5 inches (13 mm) at Pensacola.[14]
  • January 17, 1892: At 10:30 am, sleet fell for a few minutes only at Madison, Florida.[15]
  • February 14, 1892: Pensacola reported 3 inches (76 mm) of snow.[16]
  • December 26/27, 1892: On both days, precipitation fell as sleet and snow at Pensacola. On December 26, sleet also occurred at Cerro Gordo, Florida, and slight trace of snow fell at Tallahassee. On December 27, a slight trace fell at Moseley Hall, Madison County, Florida.[17] At intervals during daytime on December 27, light snow flurries occurred at Jacksonville.[1]
  • January 16–19, 1893: On January 16, snow occurred at Palatka. On January 17, sleet fell at Oxford, and at Pensacola. Shortly after midnight on January 18, sleet began in the city of Jacksonville and then turned to snow and then to rain.[1] That day, sleet also fell at Moseley Hall, Pensacola, and Tallahassee, and snow occurred at Lawtey. On January 18 and 19, sleet fell at Bristol.
  • December 29, 1894: Brooksville reported snowfall from 9 am to 11 am, and a few flakes fell at Mosquito Lagoon near Oak Hill, Florida. The press reported snow at towns in middle and west Florida. The temperature morning fell to lows unprecedented in decades, and this freeze destroyed 2 million to 3 million boxes of the orange (fruit) crop not yet gathered, severely damaged pineapple plants, and killed or destroyed almost all other fruits and vegetables.[18]
  • February 14, 1895: From 6:22 pm to 6:27 pm, light sleet fell at Jacksonville, followed by light snow until 6:32 pm. At 7:20 pm, light snow resumed until 8 pm.[1] Snow also fell at Tampa, and at Pensacola, snow reportedly reached depths allowing for sleighing.[19]
  • February 12/13, 1899: At 9:45 pm, rain changed to sleet at Jacksonville. Sleet then changed to snow at 10:15 pm and continued through the night, accumulating to 2 inches (51 mm) before sunrise at 7 am as the temperature plunged to 10 °F (−12 °C).[1] The accumulation reached 4 inches (100 mm) at Lake Butler.[16] In sheltered locations, the snow melted only several days later.[1] This Great Blizzard of 1899 also affected much of the American South.

20th century (20 reported events)[edit]

  • December 16, 1901: At 1 pm, light snow fell at Jacksonville; at intervals through the afternoon, sleet followed.[1]
  • February 7, 1907: During the afternoon, a light snow flurry occurred "in the immediate vicinity" of the city of Jacksonville.[1]
  • November 27, 1912: An overnight period of snow covers the ground and trees with a 0.5 inches (13 mm) layer in northern Florida.[20]
  • January 22/23, 1935: Snow falls until the next morning, with Pensacola recording 1 inch (25 mm).[12]
    Picture of the December 23, 1989, Jacksonville snowfall
  • February 2, 1951: Snowfall begins and ends the following day, accumulating to 2.0 inches (51 mm) at Saint Augustine and Crescent City.[16]
  • December 14, 1952: Sleet and snow falls across the northern portion of the state, though there is very little accumulation.[21]
  • December 14, 1953: Light sleet occurs in the morning in Marianna.[21]
  • March 6, 1954: 4 in (100 mm) of snow accumulates at Milton Experimental Station, Santa Rosa County, within a 24-hour period; the highest such total for Florida according to official modern records.[22]
  • March 28, 1955: Snowfall accumulates to 1 inch (25 mm) in Marianna along the Florida Panhandle.[23]
  • February 13, 1958: An overnight rainfall changes to snowfall in Jacksonville and accumulates to 1.5 inches (38 mm).[2] Additionally, Tallahassee reports a record 2.8 inches (71 mm).[16]
  • February 9, 1973: Snow falls over the northern portion of the state, including a total of 2.0 inches (51 mm) in Pensacola, with unofficial reports of up to 8 inches (200 mm).[16]
  • January 18, 1977: The pressure gradient between a strong ridge over the Mississippi Valley and a Nor'easter over Atlantic Canada sends very cold temperatures southward into the state. Areas around Pensacola are the first to receive the snow. Then the rest of The Panhandle. Followed by record accumulations for The Nature Coast, the I-4 corridor (both Orlando and Tampa (one tenth to a quarter inch) receive light accumulations of 1 inch (25 mm) to 2 inches (51 mm) with a few isolated spots reportedly receiving 3 inches (76 mm) to 6 inches (150 mm)), and finally South Florida. By early morning before sunrise on January 19, West Palm Beach reported snow for the first time on record, with snow flurries reaching as far south as Homestead. The snow causes little impact as it was of the dry variety, though the accompanying cold air results in hundreds of millions of dollars in damage (Orlando tied the 1899 record of over six consecutive nights well-below freezing). On January 20, The Miami Herald reports the event as the front page story, with a headline of a size usually reserved for the declaration of war.[24]
  • Late January 1977: Pensacola receives snowfall.[24]
  • March 2, 1980: About .25 inches (6.4 mm) of snow covers car tops and patio furniture in Jacksonville.[2]
  • March 1, 1986: 0.5 inches (13 mm) of snow accumulates overnight in Jacksonville before melting within 30 minutes due to the morning sun.[2]
  • December 23/24, 1989: Light rain in Jacksonville turns to freezing rain as temperatures drop, and later changes to snow. The snow totals several inches in some locations, and results in the first White Christmas in the city's history.[2] Light snow fell across central Florida as far south as southern Pinellas County on the 23rd, though the official weather station in St. Petersburg experienced only a light sleet.[25][26]
  • March 12, 1993: The 1993 Storm of the Century produces up to 4 inches (100 mm) of snow along the Florida Panhandle.[27]
  • January 8, 1996: Snow flurries are reported from Crystal River to New Port Richey with no accumulation.[28]
  • December 18, 1996: A plume of cold air causes snow to form in the northwestern portion of Escambia County.[29]

21st century (14 reported events)[edit]

Satellite image for the January 24, 2003, snowfall
  • January 24, 2003: A plume of Arctic air produces widespread record low temperatures and light snow flurries along the eastern coastline. The snow is described as ocean effect snow, identical to lake effect snow in that it occurs due to very cold air passing over relatively warm water temperatures. The snow reaches as far south as Fort Pierce.[30]
  • December 25, 2004: Locations along the Florida Panhandle receive a dusting of snow.[31]
  • November 21, 2006: An eastward moving weather system produces a very light dusting and snowflakes in central Florida. It is the first snow in November in the state since 1912.[31]
  • February 3, 2007: Very light snow flurries are reported in the northeastern panhandle, lasting less than an hour.[32]
  • January 3, 2008: Light snow flurries are reported near Daytona Beach.[33]
  • January 8/9, 2010: Very light dusting of snow seen in the eastern Jacksonville area. Light snow also fell in parts of central Florida, which briefly accumulated in Ocala and other parts of Marion County. A "wintry mix" of sleet and freezing rain was widespread, with reports of light snow across central Florida from Tampa to Orlando to Melbourne.[34] Isolated flurries were even reported from West Palm Beach to as far south as Kendall and sleet in a few spots in the South Florida metropolitan area for only the second time in recorded history and first time since 1977.[35]
  • February 12, 2010: Portions of northwestern Florida experience snowfall totals of around 1 in (25 mm).[36]
  • February 14, 2010: 0.5 inches (13 mm) of snow fell across the northern halves of Escambia, Santa Rosa, Walton and Okaloosa Counties.[37]
  • December 8, 2010: Snow mixed with rain is reported in western parts of the panhandle, north of Pensacola.[38]
  • December 26, 2010: A mix of snow and sleet was reported in Jacksonville by the National Weather Service.[39]
  • December 28, 2010: Light snow was reported at Tampa Executive Airport in eastern Hillsborough County at 01:00 and 05:00 local time, following a rare freezing fog event around midnight.[40]
  • January 9, 2011: Sleet is reported in the Pensacola area, as well as other places in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties. There was no accumulation.[41]
  • January 24-25, 2014: Sleet and light snow are reported in Escambia, Santa Rosa, and Okaloosa counties.[42] Very light sleet is reported at a few locations around Jacksonville.[43]
Snowfall forecast for 28-29 January 2014, predicting over 1 in of snow in northwest Florida.
  • January 28-29, 2014: A major winter storm event resulted in a mixture of freezing rain (with ice accumulation), sleet, and snow across most of the Panhandle between the afternoon of the 28th and morning of the 29th. Due to dangerous ice accumulation, the Florida Highway Patrol and FDOT closed several bridges in the Panhandle and advised against non-essential travel.[44] Many state and local government offices were closed around mid-day on the 28th. [45] In Santa Rosa county, officials cautioned that ice-laden tree limbs were hanging low enough to hit vehicles. [46] Between 1-9:30 PM on the 28th, 21,633 Gulf Power customers lost power at some point.[47] At 2 PM EST on January 28, Pensacola was 31°F with freezing rain while Immokalee, near Fort Myers, was 86°F. Pensacola received 1.8 in of snow on January 28. [48] On January 29, the Florida Highway Patrol closed nearly 200 miles (320 km) of Interstate 10 from the Florida-Alabama state line to Gadsden County, directing resources (and traffic) to U.S. 90.[49] Pensacola International Airport closed at 9:17 PM January 28th and was not scheduled to reopen until late on the 29th.[50]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Davis, T. Frederick (1908). "Climatology of Jacksonville, Fla. and vicinity". Monthly Weather Review (United States Weather Bureau) 35 (12): 566–572. doi:10.1175/1520-0493(1907)35<566:COJFAV>2.0.CO;2. Retrieved June 15, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Winterling, George (December 4, 2003). "Snow on the First Coast". News4JAX.com. Archived from the original on June 12, 2007. Retrieved January 22, 2007. 
  3. ^ Harrington Jr., John A.; Cerveny, Randall S.; Dewey, Kenneth F. (August 1987). "A Climatology of Mean Monthly Snowfall for the Conterminous United States: Temporal and Spatial Patterns". Journal of Climate and Applied Meteorology (American Meteorological Society) 26 (8): 897. doi:10.1175/1520-0450%281987%29026%3C0897%3AACOMMS%3E2.0.CO%3B2. ISSN 0733-3021. Retrieved June 15, 2013. 
  4. ^ Collins, Chris (1989). December 23-24, 1989 Christmas Snowstorm (Event Summaries/Case Review). United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Weather Service Forecast Office Newport/Morehead City North Carolina. Archived from the original on June 15, 2013. http://www.erh.noaa.gov/mhx/EventReviews/19891223/19891223.php. Retrieved June 15, 2013.
  5. ^ Forbes, James Grant (1821). Sketches, historical and topographical, of the Floridas; more particularly of East Florida. New York: C.S. Van Winkle. p. 60. 
  6. ^ Williams, John Lee (1837). The territory of Florida, or, sketches of the topography, civil and natural history, of the country, the climate, and the Indian tribes: from the first discovery to the present time, with a map, views, etc.. New York: A.T. Goodrich. p. 17. 
  7. ^ Ellicott, Andrew (1803). The journal of Andrew Ellicott,: late commissioner on behalf of the United States during part of the year 1796, the years 1797, 1798, 1799, and part of the year 1800: for determining the boundary between the United States and the possessions of His Catholic Majesty in America, containing occasional remarks on the situation, soil, rivers, natural productions, and diseases of the different countries on the Ohio, Mississippi, and Gulf of Mexico, with six maps, comprehending the Ohio, the Mississippi from the mouth of the Ohio to the Gulf of Mexico, the whole of West Florida, and part of East Florida: To which is added an appendix, containing all the astronomical observations made use of for determining the boundary, with many others, made in different parts of the country, for settling the geographical positions of some important points, with maps of the boundary on a large scale; likewise a great number of thermometrical observations made at different times and places. Philadelphia: Budd and Bartram for Thomas Dobson (printer). pp. 116, 121. 
  8. ^ Blodget, Lorin (1857). Climatology of the United States: and of the temperate latitudes of the North American continent, emberacing a full comparison of these with the climatology of the temperate latitudes of Europe and Asia, and especially in regard to agriculture, sanitary investigations, and engineering with isothermal and rain charts for each season, the extreme months, and the year, including a summary of the statistics of meteorological observations of the United States, condensed from recent scientific and official publications. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co. p. 147. 
  9. ^ "?", Monthly Weather Review, 1876 
  10. ^ "--", The Florida Agriculturist, 29 June 1892: 403 
  11. ^ [1]
  12. ^ a b c ""Today in Florida History" for January". Flahistory.net. Archived from the original on September 28, 2007. 
  13. ^ "Sleet". Monthly Weather Review: 15. January 1887. Retrieved June 14, 2013. 
  14. ^ "Snow", Monthly Weather Review, January 1892: 14, retrieved June 14, 2013 
  15. ^ Starr, Gregory T. (January 1892). "1892-01 COOP Publication for Madison, Florida". National Climatic Data Center. Archived from the original on March 29, 2013. Retrieved February 25, 2013. 
  16. ^ a b c d e ""Today in Florida History" for February". Flahistory.net. Archived from the original on December 27, 2003. Retrieved January 22, 2007. 
  17. ^ "Report of the Florida Weather Service for the month of December, 1892" (PDF). National Climatic Data Center. December 1892. Archived from the original on March 29, 2013. Retrieved February 25, 2013. 
  18. ^ Climatological Data, Florida, 1894 
  19. ^ Garriott, Edward B. (1906). Cold waves and frost in the United States. Bulletin P (WB No 355 ed.). United States Weather Bureau. p. 17. Retrieved February 25, 2013 
  20. ^ Keith C. Heidorn (2006). "Significant Weather Events in November in the United States". Retrieved January 22, 2007. 
  21. ^ a b Joe Disco (2003). "December 12 Time Capsule". Retrieved April 9, 2007. 
  22. ^ Liz Osborn. "Record US Snowfalls For One Day". Current Reults Nexus. Retrieved July 19, 2012. 
  23. ^ Flahistory.net. ""Today in Florida History" for March". Archived from the original on August 27, 2008. Retrieved January 22, 2007. 
  24. ^ a b Keith C. Heidorn (2002). "Miami's First Snowfall". Retrieved January 22, 2007. 
  25. ^ "Life: The great Tampa Bay snow of '89". Sptimes.com. Retrieved June 15, 2013. 
  26. ^ Reuters News Service (December 26, 1989). "4 die as Florida citrus, vegetables freeze". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved December 31, 2012. 
  27. ^ National Climatic Data Center (1993). "Event Report for the '93 Superstorm". Archived from the original on April 16, 2009. Retrieved February 28, 2008. 
  28. ^ Krueger, Curtis; Kameel Stanley (January 9, 2010). "Sleet falls for first time since 1996 in northern Tampa Bay area". St. Petersburg Times. St. Petersburg, FL. Retrieved 2013-10-04. 
  29. ^ Jeffrey M. Medlin (2005). "Evolution of a Central Gulf Coast Heavy Snowband — December 18, 1996". Mobile, Alabama National Weather Service. Archived from the original on January 13, 2007. Retrieved April 9, 2007. 
  30. ^ Melbourne, Florida National Weather Service (2003). "Cold Temperatures and Snow Flurries in East-Central Florida". Archived from the original on January 21, 2007. Retrieved January 22, 2007. 
  31. ^ a b Associated Press (November 26, 2006). "Snow falls in central Florida as state endures unusual Nov. cold snap". USA Today. Retrieved January 22, 2007. 
  32. ^ "Snow Flurries in Florida". WJHG-TV. February 3, 2007. Archived from the original on February 6, 2007. Retrieved February 16, 2007. 
  33. ^ "Snow Flurries in Florida". CNN. 2007. Archived from the original on January 4, 2008. Retrieved January 3, 2008. 
  34. ^ "Sleet, Snow Fall In Parts Of Central Florida". WFTV. January 10, 2010. Retrieved June 14, 2013. 
  35. ^ "Preliminary Local Storm Report". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved July 19, 2012. 
  36. ^ "Snowfall Accumulations From February 12th". National Weather Service. Retrieved July 19, 2012. 
  37. ^ "Snow Forecast 02-14-10". National Weather Service. Archived from the original on June 6, 2011. Retrieved July 19, 2012. 
  38. ^ "Let it Snow! Let it Snow! (With Photo Gallery)". NorthEscambia.com. December 8, 2010. Retrieved July 19, 2012. 
  39. ^ Winkle, Amanda (December 26, 2010). "Many Jacksonville.com users report snow flurries across Northeast Florida". The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved December 26, 2010. 
  40. ^ "History for Tampa Executive, FL". wunderground.com. December 28, 2010. Retrieved July 19, 2012. 
  41. ^ "Sleet Reported In Escambia, Santa Rosa (With Photo)". NorthEscambia.com. January 9, 2011. Retrieved July 19, 2012. 
  42. ^ "Sleet, snow flurries falling on Gulf Coast". Pensacola News Journal. Pensacola, FL. January 24, 2014. Retrieved 2014-01-24. 
  43. ^ http://mesonet.agron.iastate.edu/wx/afos/p.php?pil=LSRJAX&e=201401250555
  44. ^ Twitter https://twitter.com/MyFDOT_NWFL/status/428398067872567296 |url= missing title (help). Retrieved 29 January 2014. 
  45. ^ "Escambia, Santa Rosa closures, cancellations". Pensacola News Journal. 28 January 2014. Retrieved 29 January 2014. 
  46. ^ "Winter weather updates". NWFnewsonline.com. 28 January 2014. Retrieved 29 January 2014. 
  47. ^ Facebook. Gulf Power https://www.facebook.com/GulfPowerCompany/posts/705318379502657 |url= missing title (help). Retrieved 29 January 2014. 
  48. ^ "Pensacola Weather". The Weather Channel. Retrieved 29 January 2014. 
  49. ^ "Winter Storm Leon Leaves Icy Mess in Pensacola, Parts of Florida Panhandle; Drivers Urged to Stay Off Roads". The Weather Channel. 29 January 2014. Retrieved 29 January 2014. 
  50. ^ Facebook. Pensacola International Airport https://www.facebook.com/FlyPensacola/posts/10151910457967584 |url= missing title (help). Retrieved 29 January 2014.