Coldest winter in years

islandbreezeJanuary 4, 2014

I can't remember us ever having a day that temps went down to -12 and didn't get above zero for a high...most winters we don't get below zero. This winter is absolutely ruthless. We've already had 2 major snowstorms of 8" and 10", and now they're predicting another foot of snow for tonight into tomorrow night. This winter I went with lighter protection for my bigger palms, no house insulation, just burlap, Christmas lights, and a plastic bag. I hope it's sufficient.

Our 7-day forecast for Detroit:

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We are not as cold as you, but like you I didn't protect certain palms as much. None of my trachys are protected and I refuse to heat or use Christmas lights. This yr. may sufficiently limit the palm sp. I have growing outside.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 12:52PM
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Wow, that really is some serious cold. I went all out on protection this week so hopefully everything fairs okay in my yard. We have not gotten this cold in 10 years, but we ended up milder than forecasted (we were supposed to go below 0F but ended up at 4F in my yard).

Only palm I didn't protect was my blue med fan palm which I think will be okay under the snow with a frost cloth covering it and my saw palmetto which I know is going to die.
Hope everyone's plants get through the cold okay!

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 1:34PM
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This winter has been a B*t*ch especially for the fine folks of the Mid-west like you. I hope your boys pull through because I know how much Sweat and Love you've put in raising them.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 1:42PM
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JohnnieB(Washington, DC 7a/b)

For Washington, DC this may be our coldest winter in 20 years, with lows Monday night in the low single digits, maybe even lower. Some of the predictions are downright apocalyptic (see my blog post below). I'm not really sure what to expect; last night the low in DC was supposed to be anywhere from 6 to 14 degrees (depending on who you listened to) but the actual low was 18.

Here is a link that might be useful: Is this the apocalypse?

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 10:33PM
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ccroulet(z9 CA Sunset 18)

Meanwhile, it's warmer than normal here in so. Calif., and we desparately need rain.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 2:00AM
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Yeah, but for whatever reason that Cali drought situation gets virtually no press in the East. I guess it is hard getting sympathy for endless days of sunny and 75-80 F. when most of the country descends into the deep freeze.;)

Jet stream has been doing some crazy things lately. A couple of days before X-Mass we hit a humid 72 F., crashed at 5 above a few days ago, currently in the teens but expecting near 50 with thunder later as another arctic front comes through and pushes down in Central Florida with temps down into the teens and 20's widespread in Northern and Central Florida. Then, after the arctic air departs, above normal again (and lots of melting). We were developing drought in the Fall throughout New England and Mid Atlantic before this crazy Winter cycle of heavy rain, arctic cold, and snowstorms began. I think they are predicting we crash at 10 above for the next arctic plunge but Atlanta is going down to 5 above so this wave seems much more widespread than the last. Crazy!

    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 7:54AM
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Just watched the local weather again and the weatherman says, just like Johnnie B, this will be the coldest temps we've seen in 20 years. Unbelievable that it's gonna be this cold. New York and New England better brace for this...they always seem to get our weather a day later.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 10:08AM
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It looks like this cold is going to be focused south so the midwest and deep south and some of the mid atlantic is going to get hit pretty hard. Looks like the cold is not approaching as far south as cold snaps have in the past since a lot of Florida will stay above freezing, but the cold is going to be a lot more concentrated than usual. I don't think I'll get as cold on Monday and Tuesday as I did on Friday, but a lot of people who missed out on the last cold snap are going to get hit by this one pretty hard.

Good luck everyone, it's going to be a cold next few days but the warm up is looking pretty decent!

    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 2:09PM
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Right now, they are calling for a potential record low tomorrow after an 81F day today, and then Tuesday to only have a high of 45F-48F. The previous record low for Jan. 6th was 27F, set in 2010 during that 2 week freeze we had. That was one of the few years I actually recall seeing leaves change color down here.

Hoping we can beat the prediction, and at least get above 50F the second day. Will have to wrap the coconut palm for two days, and expecting the bananas that aren't under overhead canopy to get scorched, but everything else I have should be fine.

Good luck to all of you in the midwest and northeast. I'm interested to see how the palms in D.C. hold up. This will be a good gauge of what is truly hardy.

Any chance the east coast can lobby for a mountain range to be built on the Canadian border to block some of this cold air? ;)

    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 8:08PM
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I can't say this is the coldest winter in years since the coldest it got was about 23/24f but the duration of freezind temps I've never seen. This winter is rather odd. If it wasn't for the arctic blast this would have been a fairly mild winter, maybe even 10a. The day times highs are averaging above average but the lows once again are below. I'm guessing its do to the lack of cloud cover and rain. Rain fall is not looking good at all....

Either way this winter isn't just odd for the West but most of the country seems to be having warmer temps when not being hit by arctic air. The South East especially has been much above average until now. How do you guys think spring and summer will play out?

- US_Marine

    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 4:06AM
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I'm 40 miles north of Pensacola and it's supposed to get down to 11F here tonight, and 16F Tuesday night. I'm mostly concerned about my two Mule palms, so I'm going to have to think of something today to protect them. The small one I may just cover with a trash can, but the bigger one I'll have to wrap with C9 Christmas lights.

I also have a Sylvester palm and several Washingtonias, but nature may just have to take its course with those, if they die I won't grow them again. I think my native Sabal palms should be okay.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 7:28AM
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Just a roller coaster ride of a Winter here at the Jersey Shore. Got about 8 inches of snow on Friday, but it is all gone now thanks to the 60 degree temps currently. That is all due to change this evening and overnight when it drops down to single digits again with some serious wind. My windmill has gone unprotected for years now, so I've been keeping my fingers crossed. Took the Arctic hit a few days ago like a I at least wrap some lights around it this afternoon as the "polar vortex" approaches? And...forecast calls for 50's by the end of the week...

    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 8:14AM
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Here in L.A winter has been completely absent. We've had a very long stretch of temps in the mid 70s and low 80s. Unfortunately, we have had basically no rain, which is really terrible. I think we've had one full day of rain since the season began. I really do hope we get some rain before this is over. February is our best bet.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 12:16PM
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Panama, we see almost nothing in local or national news about your drought, but I have been following it.

As Trish says, we are on a roller coaster...snowstorms, FOG, rainstorms, arctic, then freaky warm (as in 60's or 70's) and so on. Not the worst winter by any means in terms of cold, snow, or ice, it's been the dramatic changes over short periods (is it a winter in Atlanta or Anchorage). Oh wait, Atlanta is gonna be colder than anchorage tonight! My local forecast has trended up with the temps, maybe due to disappearing snow as a result of last night's
60 F. heatwave. Now all for highs in the mid to upper teens (depending on source, and lows at 11F.. I think we see so many different numbers because their computer models are not too used to seeing such anomalous cold in parts of the country (and how it may or may not modify as it advances). I did cover my Trachys though (black plastic garbage cans on the small ones and lights and layered frost blanket on the larger ones. They should be fine as they are really sheltered by the house's foundation on two sides and a due south, sunny exposure. Unprotected are Needles and Sabal minor. Hopefully, temps will be even milder than forecast---I am about as hardy as my Trachy.

This is a picture of the recent snowstorm in Israel. Date Palms in the picture.
Jerusalem saw 1.5 FEET of snow and they have virtually no snow removal equipment! So, we are not alone in experiencing a bizarre Winter!

    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 4:35PM
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Please everybody, keep us all updated on your unprotected palms' progress. Will be interesting to see how the Mules do with 11 degrees and the Trachys in single digits.

I piled snow up on the lower half of my needles and trachy that are only protected with lights and burlap, and I'll be keeping an eye on the thermometers inside to let me know if I also need to cover the tops with large trash bags to keep some heat in.

This -12 predicted tonight should be interesting. Hopefully the water will moderate us from getting that extreme. We're already down to -3 right now at 5pm.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 4:54PM
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JohnnieB(Washington, DC 7a/b)

It hit 5.2 degrees in my back yard in Washington, DC--the lowest my palms have ever seen, and they were unprotected. The high today will struggle to reach the 20's, followed by another cold night, probably low teens. The wind that accompanied the cold last night didn't help. Several of my palms are already showing initial signs of damage, folded leaflets with a freeze-dried look that I've seen once before, when they ended up nearly defoliating.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 1:53PM
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Looks like in un-voluntarily decided to keep all the subtropicals in my front yard unprotected. I unplugged the lights because it was so warm yesterday that they would have overheated and I turned the switch back on indoors without plugging in the lights outdoors. So my Sabal, my Med fan palm, my gardenias, and my 2 oleanders all saw 3F without any additional heat. All they got was a frost cloth and the palms had a plastic garbage bin over them.

Im pretty worried about the oleanders but I'm remaning a little optimistic about the Sabal minor and my med fan palm but the lights are on now and only time will tell.

Hope everyone's plants manage okay, I know I will have a lot of damage this year and probably a few dead plants but at least we are all going through it!

Good luck! Warmer weather is on the way now at least!

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 5:08PM
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Alex, Med has the advantage in being a clumper, so part of the clump may in fact die back but there should be a part still alive. Minors should be okay--I did not protect mine either. Oleander may come back but may be slow. My hardy gardenia was buried under a snow bank---should be fine. Can't wait to uncover the Trachys this weekend! Near 60 on Sunday!

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 7:01PM
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My med fan palm has been a terrible clumper. It has only produced one pup when I got it despite the fact that it's a decent grower. I know some of them can be more solitary than others but hopefully if the mother plant dies, it manages to come back by pupping! The thermometer I had next to it said that the low was 19F which I find hard to believe because it was so cold out this morning, but if that's true, it might make it!

My gardenias were under snow when we got down to 4F last week, but we don't have any snow anymore so it was all exposed for this 3F cold!

I'm really looking forward to uncovering everything also! Looks like a nice string of mild weather. I have 5 days in my forecast that stay above freezing day and night. Hopefully all the damage that is present shows during this warm up because it would be awful to have to wait until spring to see what survived and what didn't!

Good luck with all your plants!

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 7:15PM
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I got down to 33F this morning and I got up to 55F in my yard today in Corpus Christi (Flour Bluff). Some areas inland and north of Corpus got down to 26F. I don't think the island (North Padre Island) got below 35F. We are supposed to be back in the 70's on Thursday.


    Bookmark   January 8, 2014 at 12:06AM
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The airport in Corpus, by the way got down to 30F this morning. Normally the airport gets down to about 25 or 26F once each winter, and normally here in Flour Bluff, we get down to 30 or 31F once each winter. This winter has been really chilly in South Texas. No record lows, but one record low high temp about four Saturdays ago in December, we had a high of only 39F when the normal high for the date was 70F! We started getting really chilly around Thanksgiving, and have only had a few brief warm ups since then.

The normal high at the airport now is 66F and the normal low is 47F. Here in Flour Bluff, I estimate the normal high and low for Jan. at 65F and 51F, but we have had many days over the last couple of months with highs in only the 40's and 50's and lows in the 30's and 40's. Terrible weather for tropical palms. I have had to wrap my four coconut palms in my yard 3 times this season. I am ready for spring, and my palms are too!


    Bookmark   January 8, 2014 at 12:14AM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

This one has been very unusual for me . All of Dec was above normal particularly the nights . The present front roared in with high winds and RAIN lol. Though the low was
48 remained below 55 all day and very overcast . Usually the cold front pushes the warm fronts out so we have brilliant sunshine and dry with a strong drop in humidity
Now the tropical front is going to back up bringing heavy rain overcast and cool.
Can't wait for FEB usually the coldest but not stupid enough to venture a guess lol Good luck everybody!! gary

    Bookmark   January 8, 2014 at 6:35AM
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It's been a brutal winter for most of the US. Thankfully most of FL was spared earlier in the week. Local news forecasted 18 Mon and 22 Tues night for me in Jax. It got to 25/31 but the panhandle got hit pretty bad. At least everyone is warming up some before the next artic intrusion.

We have a ways to go still... I hope everyone does well and their palms pull through.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 9:16PM
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Since the Polar Vortex is all said and done, we ended up getting a snow storm of 11 inches, sometimes at a rate of 2" per hour, followed by the coldest day in 20 years, a high of zero and a low of -13 and 42 consecutive hours below zero. The city of Saline, about an hour west of here, got down to -23 degrees. At one point, the wind chill got down to -44 degrees.

Schools were closed for 3 days, local governments were shut down and some cities declared emergencies where if you're caught out on the roads, you were given a ticket. Following came roads that were completely ice-covered and temps were so cold that salt was no longer effective.

I've never seen anything like this before here, it was like something out of a movie, yet I know people in the upper peninsula and in Minnesota deal with this regularly in the winter...I hope we don't have to deal with this kind of thing again for at least 20 more years.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 9:47PM
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Wow, it sounds like you got hit really hard by the cold. I cant imagine -44F wind chills. Wind chills here were -10F and I found that unbearable!
I hope the worst of the winter cold is done now. I can handle a few more cold and snowy days, but I think we all deserve a very early spring and summer.

49 more days until March 1st and after that spring really starts showing.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 1:50PM
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Going to just about 60 F. tomorrow with tons of rain, with even more predicted in the new week--which will be big problem with the current snowbanks and partially frozen rivers, blocked sewers, gutters, etc.. This Winter is just insane! Sunday will be delightfully sunny and very mild--should feel like the first day of Spring. Oh, and today we had a surprise/unpredicted snowstorm.

I uncovered my Trachys, and they look fine but am concerned about my beautiful rosemary bushes--time will tell. Sabal minors and Needles were completely unprotected and are fine.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 5:34PM
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I hope everything manages okay for you NJ! Sounds like mostly good news so far. I have my med fan palm, trachys, and livistonia covered from the rain. Not going to be a pretty one out there tomorrow, but at least the temps are mild enough for me to take out a good number of potted plants to get a nice soaking. Looks like 1-2 inches of rain is likely with the rain tomorrow and then around an inch again on Tuesday. It's better than snow though so I am very happy for that. Looks like it will get cold again after Tuesday, but I can handle highs in the 30s and lows in the 20s.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 8:14PM
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prinbama(Alabama 7b-8a)

Well after the hard freeze, turns out my pindo got effected. I managed to get it covered up but yesterday when I went to uncover the top portion of the enclosure, I noticed a good bit of the fronds got some discoloration. The spear hasnt pulled and its very much green. My small trachy got spear pulled. I didnt protect the little fella.

Heres my 7 day forecast, its looking pretty good for this time a year

    Bookmark   January 11, 2014 at 11:04AM
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Cannot believe the cold we got here in Detroit. Albeit, OH, IN, and IL got it worse, the Great Lakes helped us out a bit by shaving 5-10F off of the extreme lows. I don't remember a day only making it up to 2F in my entire life as it did last Sunday.

I only covered my palms with dry oak leaves and trash barrel. So far, with my peak in last this last warm up (near 50F), yes in the same week; it still looked green. In the 5 years, I've never used artificial heating, only ambient natural heating. My cold hardy bananas, and palms have never been stressed. This year will be the truest test of nature.

Here is a link that might be useful: Tropics of Michigan

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 12:33PM
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Glad that your palms are still looking green. After cold like that, it will definitely be interesting to see if everything survives. I hope your plants all pull through. That's not the kind of cold you expect to see too often.
Good luck!

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 2:33PM
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During the "Vortex" I liked the report of "There are places on Mars warmer then the midwest".

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 3:52PM
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It's pretty crazy to think about that! Since Mars' atmosphere is very thin, the temperatures recorded on Mars are taken right at the surface. Apparently the record highest temperature on Mars was 95F taken by the spirit rover in shade. Kind of interesting how habitable Mars sounds considering that we wouldn't survive more than a few seconds on it without a space suit.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 5:43PM
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neonrider(USDA 8A ^ Sunset 31 ^ Mid-SC)

Got down to 14F/15F on January 6/7 night here (Key West and Miami was just 60F during the day on January 6 and 7), but one thermometre shows 12F as a low. I think it got down to 31-32F as a high during all day on Tuesday on Jan. 7 or 8. Back to zone 8A... and for a couple years I thought we were entering zones 9A, 9B or even 10A here... Palm trees got damaged, but not killed. The heavier damage may show up in weeks from now and more cold below 25F may come soon. Hopefully none below 20F again.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 11:46PM
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neonrider(USDA 8A ^ Sunset 31 ^ Mid-SC)

There was a heavy chemtrail spraying several days around this cold snap (as usual), so don't be surprised if this cold was manufactured by persistent aerosol contrails.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 11:51PM
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neonrider(USDA 8A ^ Sunset 31 ^ Mid-SC)

My palms at 12-14F low on Monday (Jan.6-7) night and till Wednesday (Jan. 8, with probably 16-18F as low) in Orangeburg county, SC, status as of Jan. 18 (10-12 days past the freeze):

Washingtonia robustas adult size, browned a lot, but fronds not broken, center still somehow green

Phoenix sylvestris (1+ foot trunk): mostly brown, but some light silvery green in the middle, so it may survive

Pindo-Queen hybrid, 5 ft. tall overall, in a pot - became olive in colour, but seems still ok.

Wash. robustas in pots, size 4-5 feet - browned a lot, mostly, still alive. Those in Orangeburg and Columbia are also damaged, mostly brown.

Chilean-Pindo hybrids, size 1-2 ft. in pots outside as well - no damage.

Butia capitata and other small Butias in pots (eriospatha, yatay etc.) - no damage except some browning of some ends of some fronds and some yellowing on central spear on some.

Greek date palms - 1-2 ft. size in pots - olive to brownish by now, but alive (have some available)

Bismarck palm seedlings in pots, were covered with nursery pots, survived! (have some available)

Australian fans 15 gal. size (protected from rain only) - both dried and pulled spears... probably will die.

Medjools (1-2 ft. in pots) - some damage but ok

CIDP (5 footer, in pot) seem it won't make it, although others seem hardier, perhaps already nativized

Wash. filifera in pot and in the ground - a lot of browning, especially by rain + cold, look bad but not broken yet

All of the above hate temps under 20F and washies brown under 26F. Best temps for palms are 28F and up!

Mediterranean fans - very little to no damage, more damage may show later, because they hate temps under 16F

Windmills and wagner palms - no damage

Sabals - no damage

Looks like Sabals, windmills and pindos are best for zone 8, because Trachy wagnerianus can burn during the summer heat unless planted in semi shade. Washingtonias survive if 2 winters are mild after planting, but look bad for a while.

None of the above palms pull a spear yet.

The absolute winners: Sabal palms! Probably Jubutias too.
Windmills would too, but they burn during summers. Pindos can get damaged sometimes under 15F.

Grow Sabals!

More cold is coming tonight and the coming Tuesday, probably down to 26F, which is not too big of a problem here.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 12:36AM
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Here in VB we went over 36 hours below freezing last week. I recorded a low of 6 degrees at the house here Wednesday morning. Today it's in the mid 50's and I just finished trimming the dead fronds off my chinensis. My Washy filifera that's been in the ground for almost 15 years with no protection (30 ft tall) looks bad, but may recover. The sagos lost all their fronds but will come back. I also have two satsumas that will lose all their leaves but may recover. Of course, the windmill palms are soldiering on, no worse for the wear. And I had such high hopes for the global warming thing...

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 4:46PM
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February off to a good start. 77 yesterday so I started trimming up the hedges and roses. My biggest Queen is the only one that shows damage, about 30% burn.

Did the Groundhog see his shadow?

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 8:57AM
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neonrider(USDA 8A ^ Sunset 31 ^ Mid-SC)

You should not trim severely cold damaged plant's fronds that are brown or especially yellow ones, until the plant shows new growth. Best is to wait longer until plant fully recovers. It needs those fronds to help it recover.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 3:32PM
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