December 12 Time Capsule


            Hi everybody and welcome! This has been an extremely odd and busy week in the weather department. Not only are we looking at a very late out of season tropical system but we are also tracking a very early major winter storm. Either one of these scenarios would definitely be something to watch but to have both conditions at the same time is truly a rare event.

Tropical storm Odette formed in the Caribbean on December 4th as a tropical depression and quickly was upgraded to tropical storm strength. Odette reached top wind speeds of 65 mph before making landfall in Hispanola. Odette is the first tropical system to form in the Caribbean during the month of December.  The last storm to develop during the month of December was Lili back in 1984. Lili reached wind speeds of 50 mph and lasted from December 12th all the way to December 24th. Lili never made landfall. Lili formed in the Atlantic near Bermuda and made a loop with a final resting place north of Puerto Rico.

The other major weather maker is the major nor’easter that slammed the Mid-Atlantic and New England states on December 6th. New York City received 6 inches of snow on December 6th. This breaks a record which stood at 5 inches since 1869. The total snowfall depth since December 1st in Central Park is now at 14 inches. The snowfall totals were recorded at the Central Park recording station.

Another city hit hard by the storm was Boston. Boston received a record 11.9 inches on December 6th and a total of 12.8 inches since December 1st. There were numerous damage reports from other areas in and around the Boston area. Exeter, in Washington County, reported very heavy snowfall with numerous trees and wires down. Plymouth County reported severe coastal flooding with water up to the car doors on Atlantic Ave. Several rods were also reported closed in Plymouth County. In the city of Cohasset, in Norfolk County, a power pole was reported to have fallen on a house along with numerous trees and power lines downs. Bristol County also reported wind damage with numerous trees and power lines down.

The city of Springfield, Massachusetts, where my youngest daughter and grandson live, received a record 12.5 inches from the storm. The previous record was 6.9 inches, which was set in 1964.

In short, it looks as though the 2003 winter season is going to be a real doozy with large temperature swings and lots of severe weather. You can always get the latest winter advisories for your favorite city at JOESDISCOWEATHERCENTRAL.COM and clicking on Winter Weather Update Page.

With the holidays fast approaching, one of the best ways to express our holiday spirit is to decorate with holiday plants. One of the most popular is the poinsettia plant. Being in retail garden, I have unpacked an astounding number of these delicate bushes. In fact, over the course of 25 years in the horticulture business, I have handled no less then 90,000 of these colorful plants! On average about 3000 per year.

            Here are some interesting facts about the poinsettia plant:

· The Aztecs called poinsettias “Cuetlaxochitle”. During the 14th – 16th century, the sap was used the control fevers and the bracts were used to make a reddish dye.

· The botanical name for the poinsettia, Euphorbia Pulcherria, was assigned to this colorful plant by the German botanist, Wilenow. The plant was growing through a crack in his greenhouse. He was so dazzled by its color that he gave it this botanical name, which means “very Beautiful”.

· Poinsettias are native to Mexico.

· Poinsettias are a perennial shrub that can grow up to ten feet tall.

· The colorful part of the plant that many people think are the blooms are actually bracts or modified leaves.

· Poinsettias are not poisonous. For many years, people have believed that these plants were deadly poisonous.

· A fresh poinsettia is one that little or no pollen shows on the flower clusters.

· Poinsettias are the best selling potted plant during the holiday season with sales upward and beyond sixty million plants per season.

            How to select a poinsettia plant:

· Choose plants with dark green foliage.

· Choose bracts that are dark green in color.

· Do not purchase plants that have a lot of green around the bracts.

· Choose plants that are not displayed in paper or plastic sleeves.

            Tips on caring for your new treasure:

· Be sure to keep your plant away from cold drafts and low temperatures. If they are outside, protect them if temperatures go lower then 50.

· Keep your poinsettia near a sunny window where it will get plenty of light.

· Check the soil for water daily. Be sure the plant has good drainage and it does not sit in water. Water evenly if soil is dry

Now, on to the Time Capsule…


December 12-13, 1934 -- statewide -- Severe Freeze with low temperatures of 20 degrees reported in Tallahassee, 16 at Gainesville, 22 at Orlando, 20 at Ocala and 21 at Avon Park.

 December12-13, 1957 -- statewide -- Severe Freeze with low temperatures of 20 degrees reported in Tallahassee, 16 at Gainesville, 24 at Orlando, 22 at Bartow and 24 at Avon Park.

December 12, l969 -- Bradford Co., Starke -- A 42 yr. old lineman was injured by lightning while working in a rainstorm.

December 13-14, 1962 -- Statewide -- Severe Cold Outbreak caused by a huge arctic high brought all-time record lows for December to over 3-dozen cities. Lows ranged from the single digit and teens in north Florida to the 20s central and low 30s south. Lows reached 5 degrees in DeFuniak Springs, 30 in Fort Lauderdale, 22 in Melbourne, 27 in Naples, 12 in Gainesville, 22 in St. Petersburg, and 29 in Hollywood.

December 13, l984 -- Santa Rosa Co., Milton -- Tornado damaged six houses and destroyed four mobile homes.

December l4, l952 -- north Florida -- Snow and Sleet -- Trace of snow or sleet at or near Pensacola, Crestview, DeFuniak Springs, Quincy, Carrabelle, Tallahassee, St. Marks, Monticello, Madison, Mayo, Live Oak, Lake City, Glen St. Mary, and Hilliard. Frozen precipitation occurred before noon at most points, but occurred in the afternoon at Mayo and Lake City and near Hilliard. Temperatures were above freezing and snow or sleet melted as it fell.

 December 14, 1953 -- morning -- Jackson Co. -- Sleet was reported in Marianna.

December 15, 1947 -- Escambia Co., Pensacola -- A Tornado caused major damage to several buildings, injuring four people.

December 15-16, l992 -- Martin and West Palm Beach Cos. -- High winds caused high waves and beach erosion along the east coast. A 50-year-old beach house on Jupiter Island tumbled into the ocean after sand eroded beneath it.

December l6, l974 -- Several small tornadoes touched down in Sarasota, Charlotte, and Palm Beach Cos., toppling trees and damaging some roofs.

December l7, l97l -- S. West Palm Beach Co. -- A Funnel Cloud was sighted.

December l8, 1929 -- Santa Rosa County -- A tornado struck Cedar Grove, damaging a church and five houses. One woman was injured.

December 18, l95l -- Jacksonville -- Tornado caused major damage to roofs of two houses and minor damage to roofs of seven others. -- Evening -- St. Petersburg -- A Tornado demolished a storage shed, wrecked a garage, and caused other lesser damage to buildings and signs. Evening -- Frostproof, Lake Moody -- Tornado uprooted some citrus trees and damaged the fruit of many others.

December 19-21, 1901 -- statewide -- Major Freeze with low temperatures of 17 degrees reported at Tallahassee, 19 at Gainesville, 20 at Ocala and 25 at Orlando.

 December 19-20, l991 -- Broward, Dade, Martin, Palm Beach Co. -- High Winds - Strong easterly winds and heavy surf pounded the lower east coast. Winds gusted to 44 mph at Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport, causing significant beach erosion due to the pounding surf. Parts of A1A were closed as sand blew across the roadway.

December19, 1995 -- Gadsden Co. 1 mile north of Mt. Pleasant -- An F2 tornado destroyed a mobile home carrying the two residents over 125 yards.  The men were found four hours later.  One man (50) was dead, while the other, his brother, was severely injured.  Items from the dwelling were found three miles away.