Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Day It Snowed in Miami

The company I went to visit in Canada twice last year sent some folks down to do some work at our place yesterday, and naturally talk turned to weather.  When I went to the lobby to pick them up, one of the two was standing outside feeling the sun on her face and reveling in it being above freezing.

Comparing notes on what each other's weathers are like over lunch, I remembered the day it snowed in South Florida.  Coincidentally, tonight I run across this link to the Miami Herald, "Jan. 19. 1977: The day it snowed in Miami". 
Thirty years ago today, snowflakes briefly dusted palm trees, windshields and people from Miami to West Palm Beach -- a freak but brief winter wonderland and the only South Florida snowfall on record in the 20th century.
Like all Floridians here at the time, I remember it very clearly.  I was working as tester/technician for a company that made transformers, and was waiting to go into work at 7:00 or 7:30 in the morning.  The place was outside Deerfield Beach, about 40 miles north of downtown Miami, and 10 or so from my home in Ft. Lauderdale.   My car: a '72 Ford Pinto with minimal creature comforts.  It was cold and I was waiting in the car rather than standing outside by the door.  All of a sudden motion caught my eye and I noticed something white blowing around (it was windy as well as unusually cold).  It didn't take long to realize it was snow flurries. I was wearing a lightweight, navy blue, nylon jacket, and I vividly recall the snow bouncing off the dark jacket.  

Mrs. Graybeard, whom I wouldn't meet for another two years, tells me that she called the day care center where her son was and asked if they would take them out to see the snow.   The person on the phone, undoubtedly fielding the same call 40 or 50 times, said, "do you think we could have kept them in?"
Miami's snow fall during the Blizzard of 1977 was caused by a combination of two artic cold fronts -- one passed the region on Jan. 16 followed by a second faster-moving one in the middle of the night the day it snowed.

That second front chilled the region and moved so quickly that moisture -- usually ahead of such fronts -- instead lagged behind, setting the stage for the snow.

"Basically, what happened is that the precipitation formed in the clouds did not have enough time to melt before it reached the ground, " Molleda said.
This picture from Tampa, midway up the state on the west coast, where they had measurable accumulation. 
I live close to 200 miles from Miami, now, near the Kennedy Space Center on the east coast.  We've had brief flurries here twice since then.  Once in the late 1980s and once in 2010.  On that day in 2010, we were supposed to be taking a tactical pistol class outside in the weather all day.  High for the day was 34 and class was postponed.  We didn't get snow at our place, but we did have some sleet and snow was reported around the area, and I saw pictures of it. 


  1. I remember this very precisely.

    Waiting for the school bus, 5th grade.
    At the corner of St. Paul church and Lake Placid park, Lighthouse Point.

    If you took Sample Road 36th/st east to about where it would have to end.

    Flakes of snow in the air.

    Unheard of.

    My dad worked at Imperial Point Hospital ER at the time.

    No snow incidents that I recall, will have to ask him.

    Thanks for bringing this up, SiG!

  2. I remember it too. Stationed in JAX at VP-30, and that morning was the drive from hell to get in to work... I had the duty... If I remember right, that was the year they lost almost the ENTIRE orange crop and strawberry crops too!

  3. Bill - I know that place. Had a friend who lived not far from there. But it was back then ('76) doubt I could find it on a map today.

    And yeah, NFO, it was really bad on agriculture that year.

    I've read that Jacksonville was a citrus zone 100 years ago, and as the winters have gotten colder this century, the belt has migrated south, to where it's now basically south of Orlando. (What? With global warmening?) In just the 30 years I've lived here, I've seen the citrus farms shutting down, and lost my three citrus trees to freezes.

  4. Thanks though,
    that is a very fond memory for me from many moons ago.

    And now I live in damn DC.