Photo by: David J. Phillip
It snowed in Miami 44 years ago, and experts say it could happen again.
On January 19, 1977, South Florida got the surprise of a lifetime when they experienced such an event that many thought they would ever see in their Floridian lifetime; light, fluffy snow. This innocent snowfall resulted in far more damage to Florida than anyone could imagine.
There were reports of people seeing flurries when driving through the state’s southern areas, and the snow was dense enough to sit on windshields and plants. The Homestead Air Force Base was the southernmost area to report the sights of the flurries, which marked a new record for the United States. This event was the first and last time snow has been reported in South Florida.
The snowfall was nowhere near a lengthy snowstorm; it only lasted about an hour and a half from 8:00-9:30 a.m. The snow did melt rather quickly within the next hour. If the snow didn’t melt and extreme cold set in, this would have resulted in horrific effects.
During this time, a record low of 31°F (-0.5°C) came with the snow and wreaked havoc on local farms and crops. According to Local 10, the losses estimated from the damage to crops were worth $100 million in Dade County alone.
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This rare snowfall came from the ideal combination of two back-to-back strong cold fronts that carved their way through South Florida, emitting incredibly cold air, especially for the ordinarily warm-to-hot state. There was allegedly a simultaneous upper-level disturbance that allowed enough lift and moisture in the atmosphere to create the light snow.
But nothing like this could ever happen again in Florida, right? Well, that’s just not the case, especially with climate change at hand; expert environmentalists suggest that we may see more weather extremes. This would mean hotter summers and colder winters.
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Although the recipe for the snowfall is rather rare, a winter storm with enough power and just the right components could result in yet enough harmful snowfall to Florida in the future. Although Florida’s winters haven’t seen something so extreme like the snowfall of 1977, Local 10 notes that this past decade has been the coolest Miami has ever been to date.
This winter has seen many frigid cold fronts in the United States, and so far, January has had the longest streak of below-80 degree days in five years. We don’t mean to startle you by warning about unprecedented snowfall, but as the years go by and climate change gets worse, another South Florida snowfall is bound to happen again.