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Snow in Florida, Ice in the Birdbath

When I went out to call the cat this morning (stupid cat starting meowing to be let out at 5:30 A.M), I was suprised to see ice on the birdbath. I haven’t seen that in several years. It didn’t look like any of the foliage around it was burned, so maybe not much damage was done.

The Kid’s garden looks like it survived

Kid Matt planted a backyard garden last week and is showcasing it on his website, complete with live TomatoCam.

Brings to mind January 19, 1977

I was director of photography for The Palm Beach Post and The Evening Times back in those days. We knew it was going to be cold, but not that it was going to drop to an all-time record of 24F. It was a night to bring in the brass monkey.

Shortly after daybreak, my phone rang, never a good thing. It was George Hathaway, the overly-excitable city editor for the afternoon paper, The Evening Times.

“It’s snowing!!!” he was screaming into the phone

“George, this is Florida. It doesn’t snow in Florida. It’s just the Florida Power & Light power plant clearing its throat and blasting some ash into the air,” I explained rationally.

“It’s SNOWING!!!!” he repeated, louder this time.

I live 1.9 miles from the office, but I’m pretty sure that this time I didn’t need the telephone to hear him. I looked out the window.

“It’s SNOWING!!!!!” I hollered to Trying-to-Sleep Wife Lila.

The next 10 minutes were spent on the phone and radio dragging the photo staff out of warm beds. “No, it’s NOT the bleeping FP&L plant, it’s bleeping SNOWING!” I kept repeating.

Lab tech Hilary got the only snow picture

Much to the chagrin of my high-powered photo staff, Hilary Johnston (now Carmichael), the chief lab tech, was the only one who managed to get a picture of the actual snow before it melted. As I recall, she snapped a quick shot of a few pellets of snow on her car windshield before they disappeared.

The event was immortalized on a popular coffee mug that was sold to the public.

Amusing to us, disastrous to the farmers

While we coastal city dwellers were having fun laughing at a local K-Mart that had received a shipment of snow shovels and sleds by mistake and put them in front of the store, farmers in The Glades were facing a disaster.

At some point, they had to give up attempts to keep their crops above the freezing point with smudge pots, flooding and helicopters. When the sun came up miles and miles of produce like these peppers were burned beyond saving.

7 comments to Snow in Florida, Ice in the Birdbath

  • Lurch1

    That tiny snowfall, which melted before I awoke, was responsible for one of the worst headlines in Palm Beach Post history:

    “It’s cold, snow foolin’ ”

    I think they also “dressed the page up” by adding icicles to Peter Palm Tree, the weather ear in the masthead.

  • kls

    You have a good memory. Both of those things are true.

  • Jan

    I was living in Fort Lauderdale doing freelance photography and being a toddler’s mom. My best friend called and said to get outside — “It’s snowing – you’ve always wanted to see snow!” I didn’t see much of anything except what looked like ash — and ran back inside to get a black wool jacket. I looked at the flakes as they landed on it and was incredibly disappointed. They didn’t look at all like the snowflakes I had envisioned.

    I remember many Februarys as kid, driving to Pensacola, and seeing the smudge pots burning in the groves all along 27 around Orlando . I have old pictures somewhere of a grove of oranges with icicles hanging off them.

  • Dad, clean your birdbath. That can’t be good for birds or neighbors.

    —Matt

  • kls

    Miz Jan, Mam,

    What we got in ’77 were ice pellets, not snowflakes. I’m sorry that you got second-rate snow for your first sighting.

    Kid,

    If the neighbors don’t like drinking out of my dirty birdbath, they can clean it themselves.

  • If the neighbors don’t like drinking out of my dirty birdbath, they can clean it themselves. It didn’t look like any of the foliage around it was burned, so maybe not much damage was done.

  • Hilary Carmichael

    I did take some of snow on the windshield but the photo used was a closeup shot of an actual snowflake, with a design, on the leaf of a geranium plant. I was late getting to work that morning because of it, too. I lost that photo over the years which I regret. It had such a fun story behind it.