How Cold Is It?
I know it is very cold is most of our country and I know what that means in my home state of Michigan. But it is interesting what very cold weather means in Florida. What am I talking about? Last night it was 27 degrees for five hours in mid Florida - between Tampa and Orlando. That broke the local records. Abnormal cold weather has been here for over ten days, which makes everything worse.
I know the cold weather with ice and snow is hard on the cattle and other animals in the north. The cattle here in Florida are doing fine but other animals are having trouble. (Did you know that cattle is the second largest business in Florida? It is second behind tourism and larger than the citrus business.) Florida has fisheries. Some are private businesses to produce fish for aquariums. One place has some indoor tanks and moved at least some of their fish to them. Another place did not have indoor tanks and ninety percent of the business was lost. I know zoos in the north make plans every year for their cold sensitive animals. Florida does too. Some of the animals are taken inside and some have heating put into their outdoor homes.
The wild animals are having problems.
The manatee begin to suffer health problems when the water gets under 60 degrees. They are coming in mass from the gulf into rivers and outlets what are warmed by springs or waste water warmed by manufacturing. The areal pictures show the manatee are massed together in these places. People are being asked to stay away from the masses of manatees so they won't be frightened and swim into cold water. One manatee missed the route to warmer water and ended up in a ditch. They have rescue people who picked her up and took her to warmer water.
Cold blooded animals such as the alligators, turtles, and snakes are having trouble. (Did you know that alligators don't feed until they are at a certain temperature?) One of the latest warnings is that the rats are trying to move into buildings to get warm too.
While up north the crops are now gone or dormant, many of them are in peak here in Florida. Florida provides most of the vegetables and fruits in the U.S. during the winter. Where I live in Florida, there are many fields of strawberries. They picked all they could and then ran sprinklers to cover the plants with ice. This actually causes them to stay warm. They have had to use the sprinklers for so many days that the green berries have been damaged. So far they have saved the plants. They have also sprayed the lower branches of the citrus trees and so far that crop is doing good. The vegetables have all been very damaged. The strawberry and citrus producers have water spraying systems but the lettuce, tomatoes and all the other vegetables don't generally have any protection and will have to be replanted.
I just learned about another effect of all the watering to protect crops. The ground is being so saturated that sink holes are causing both road and home damage. Sink holes are always a problem in many areas of Florida and home owners buy riders to their insurance for them, but the watering is increasing the problem.
Airplanes are being delayed in major airports such as Tampa because they are covered with ice in the morning. The Tampa airport has no de-iceing equipment. The planes must wait until mother nature melts the ice on the planes.
While in Michigan we use natural or propane gas to heat many of out homes, electricity is the major source here. They have used record amounts during the last two weeks. All the stores are sold out of space heaters. Some schools are having problems. There is a backup to get service on heating units that are not working. They have put a hold on turning off any one's electricity for unpaid bills until the cold lets up. It is expected to last another week and there is a possibility of snow during the weekend. The last time that happened here was 1967 but they think sleet and freezing rain will be more likely.
They have opened their emergency shelters for the homeless. At least three persons living in tents or other make-shift structures have died. They have also already used up their budgets for the emergency shelters.
Including mine, many mobile homes here are very poorly insulated. I don't have a roof over or additional insulation or new siding. Double pane windows are about unknown in Florida. I have a good heating/cooling unit and it has been running a lot. I sure don't look forward to seeing my next electric bill. I prefer to have my home cool and keep the thermostat at 60. Lots of soups, tea, clothes and quilts. Kipper is grown out medium long and has a nice coat for this weather. Many of the little dogs that live near us have sweaters to wear.
I suppose I find all this so interesting because it is such a contrast to winter in Michigan. What are the biggest problems from the cold weather in your area?