Farmers were hustling before Florida’s unusually cold weather to protect citrus and strawberry crops from prolonged freezing temperatures. They started running irrigation systems on January 3, 2018, to help form a thin layer of ice on the fruit to protect it. Temperatures below 28 degrees can kill entire citrus trees, but temperatures only have to stay that low for four hours for some limbs containing fruit to be damaged. While their efforts seem to have been successful, wildlife in Florida may not have been so lucky.
Rescuers took 850 sea turtles that had been stunned by extremely cold weather that was the second largest cold-stunning event in the Florida Panhandle since 2010 to the Gulf World Marine Institute. The sea turtles that normally live in shallow bays and estuaries cannot survive when water in their habitat reaches below 50 degrees. Officials with the institute say that the green, loggerhead and Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles will be released back into the wild as soon as temperatures rise. The official, however, said that up to 10 percent could have to stay longer because of medical needs caused by the frigid water.
While many Florida homeowners said it was too cold to venture outside as temperatures dropped below 40 degrees, they were surprised to wake up to the sight of frozen iguanas on the property. Officials with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission warned homeowners to leave them alone. While their blood moves very slowly when temperatures drop below 50 degrees, they are still alive, and most recovered once temperatures warmed up again. The same thing happened when unusually cold temperatures hit the state in 2010, and the population of iguanas has since recovered.
Many people thought they had moved to Florida to get away from cold weather. It is something that manatees do too. During the recent cold snap, many manatees were seen shivering in unusually cold water. Others, however, were smarter as they found warmer water near power plant outlets, discharge canals and natural warm springs. A warning was issued to boaters to be especially vigilant of these slow-moving animals as they make their way back out to the ocean.
The good news for people and beast alike is that the cold snap did not last very long in Florida as temperatures quickly returned to more seasonable normals.