Snow fell in Palm Beach County 39 years ago today

Palm Beach County awoke to the coldest temperatures of the year this morning, but nearly 40 years ago, a freak cold front brought even lower temperatures and snow.

It was the only snowfall recorded in Palm Beach County and none has been seen since.

At its coldest that day, the mercury dipped to 29 degrees in West Palm Beach. The snow began to fall at 6:10 a.m. and continued until 8 a.m. Snow was seen as far south as Miami.

According to the National Weather Service, prior to the 1977 snow, the farthest south snow had fallen in Florida was along a Fort Myers to Fort Pierce line in February 1899.

The front page weather story on Jan. 20, 1977 began like this: Record-shattering cold that created heavy snow flurries for the first time ever in Palm Beach County also caused a flurry of problems with crops freezing, schools closing, power failing and ducks dying.

The front page weather story on Jan. 20, 1977 began like this: Record-shattering cold that created heavy snow flurries for the first time ever in Palm Beach County also caused a flurry of problems with crops freezing, schools closing, power failing and ducks dying.

The snow was caused by a strong arctic high pressure system that settled over the lower Mississippi Valley and pumped very cold air into Florida.  At the same time, a band of clouds and precipitation associated with an upper level trough followed the arctic front.

Tampa recorded .20 inches of snow, while Plant City got up to 2 inches.

“The extended duration of freezing temperatures devastated the agricultural community in South Florida with estimated losses of $350 million statewide and over $100 million in Dade County alone,” the National Weather Service wrote in a report on the event. “Skinned fruit, such as tangerines, tangelos and temple oranges were almost totally destroyed.”

Snowball fight on steps of Florida Capitol. Wikipedia

Snowball fight on steps of Florida Capitol. Wikipedia

Since 1977, various spots in the state have seen some flurries.

On Dec. 23, 1989, snow fell in north Florida closing bridges over the St. Johns River in Jacksonville and icing Interstate 95 from there south to St. Augustine. Snow dusted that city again the day after Christmas in 2010.

Brevard and Volusia counties have seen flakes in 2003 and 2008.

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