South Florida marks 41st anniversary of snowfall in Miami-Dade, Broward

MIAMI (WSVN) - It was what no one ever expected in humid, tropical South Florida: flakes of snow falling from the sky. And even though it melted pretty much as it hit the ground, locals still marveled at the sight.

Friday marks the 41st anniversary of “The Day It Snowed in Miami,” as the Miami Herald’s headline the following day proclaimed. The morning of Jan. 19, 1977 saw temperatures plunge into the low 30s. Although the temperature on the ground was still above freezing, it was cold enough at just 1,500 feet above sea level, allowing for the precipitation to fall as snow.

Flurries fell across Broward and Miami-Dade counties, but by 10 a.m., the show was over. As cold as residents may have felt, it was already too warm for the snow to last. With a high of 47 degrees that day in Miami, it was the second-coldest afternoon high on record.

Since just a trace amount fell, weather records don’t technically count the rare phenomenon as snowfall; the National Weather Service in Miami notes an asterisk is included in official precipitation records to indicate “widespread reports of snow.”

It was the first time in recorded history for snow to fall in the area. Before that day, the farthest south snow had ever been observed was in Fort Pierce 78 years earlier, in February of 1899.

While many happily greeted the rare South Florida snowfall, the frigid temperatures ended up devastating the state’s agriculture, with estimated losses of $350 million across Florida, $100 million of which was just in Miami-Dade. In all, 35 counties in Florida were declared disaster areas, as fruit and vegetable harvests were destroyed.

Could history repeat itself? It actually already has, albeit with “unconfirmed” reports of snow, on Jan. 9, 2010. If it happened twice, it absolutely can happen again.

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