Greetings, Dear Reader. It’s mid- to late morning here in Lithia, Florida, on Wednesday, January 19, 2022. It’s a cold winter day here in west-central Florida. Currently, the temperature is 53˚F (12˚C) under sunny skies. With humidity at 85% and the wind blowing at 3 MPH (4 KM/H), the wind-chill factor is 51˚F (10˚C). Today’s forecast indicates a slight warming trend. We can expect partly sunny skies and a high of 76˚F (25˚C). Tonight, skies will be partly cloudy. The low will be 49˚F (9˚C).
As chilly as that sounds, however, I have experienced chillier weather in Florida before. The most memorable Arctic-like conditions I’ve seen were on January 19, 1977, aka “The Day it Snowed in Miami.”
On that day, which was at the peak of an Arctic blast that passed through the entire state of Florida between January 16 and January 21, 1977, what was then still called Dade County (it’s been called Miami-Dade County since the 1990s) experienced historic low temperatures. At Miami International Airport, the lowest temperature recorded on that day was 31˚F (-1˚C). At Miami Beach, the low was 32˚F (0˚C). Homestead Air Force Base (which closed in 1992 after it was gutted by Hurricane Andrew) recorded a mix of light rain and snow and became the southernmost place in the contiguous U.S. to see snow.
Although I remember the cold temperatures of that historic occasion, I did not see the snow. On January 19, 1977, I was home – at our house in Westchester – from school because I was laid low by bronchitis. Mom was in Bogota, having flown down to Colombia to help care for her ailing father after he tripped on his bathrobe sash and broke his hip. My older half-sister was taking care of me – we got along somewhat back then – and I was getting better, but I slept till 10 AM and did not see the slight dusting of snow that fell on the ground. By the time I heard about it from Vicky and the news on TV, the sun had been out for a while and melted it.
Even when I lived in East Wind Lake Village from 1978 to 2016, we had some chilly blasts from Arctic vortexes that were almost as cold as the one in 1977, but not accompanied by snow.
In my lifetime, I’ve only seen and felt snow three times. The first two occasions were when I went to New York City to attend the 8th and 9th College Press Conventions in 1986 and 1987. Both times, the conventions were held in early March. In ’86, if memory serves, it didn’t snow that much while my group from the campus student paper was in the Big Apple. In ’87, though, we did have one long, gray, cold day when it snowed a lot, and it was too cold to go out of our hotel on 42nd Street and Lexington Avenue.
The third time I saw snow was when I flew out to Colorado to hook up with a cute young woman I met on Yahoo Chat when Yahoo Messenger and Yahoo Chat were, you know, a thing. It snowed in Ft. Collins – which is where we spent our first night together – while we slept, so when I woke up the next morning and saw snow on the ground…well, it was cool and added a nice bit of wintry romance to the experience.
Aside from that, though, I have not seen a lot of the white stuff outside of the weather reports, documentaries about either World War II or the Korean War, or in movies. And unless I have a compelling reason to go somewhere where it snows, I’d like to keep it that way.