The Extreme Cold

When my children were young being raised in South Florida, I wanted them to experience the winter weather that I had grown up with in New Jersey.  I decided to take them on a ski trip in the middle of January to a resort north of Montreal in the Laurentian mountains.

The Laurentians, north of Montreal

Our first taste of the extreme cold was when the automatic doors opened to the outside where our rental car was waiting.  That first gust of Arctic air hit us hard and it was difficult for us to breathe.

As we traveled further north to Saint-Sauveur, it became more and more difficult for the car to remain warm.  Thankfully, the hotel was sufficiently heated.  Our first experience later that day was walking to a restaurant one block away in -20 ° F (-30° C).  It was painful especially for one daughter whose asthma was triggered by the extreme cold.  No amount of layering of clothes was enough to keep them warm. 

The next day, when we drove to the nearby ski resort, the temperature was a windy -30°F  (-35° C).  It was so cold that the signs outside warned that the snow-making equipment was not working because of the low temperature.  Luckily there was sufficient ground cover on the novice slopes so that my daughters were still able to take their first ski lessons.  I decided to remain indoors because I wasn’t interested in exposing myself to the frigid temperatures. 

Their first snowman

My daughters adjusted quickly to the cold and actually enjoyed the new foreign experience, but after a few days of this new sport, decided that their bodies were not really suited for the extreme cold.  They learned how to make snow angels and a snow man, but quickly became tired of having to wear layer upon layer of warm clothes just to go to dinner. 

Upon returning to South Florida, their most memorable moment for the girls was when we left the airport terminal to enter the parking garage.  As the automatic doors opened, the gust of warm, humid air was enough to convince them that they were truly happy to be living in Florida.  I made a promise then to my wife that there would never be any reason to leave our tropical paradise during the winter months.

Forty years later, my decision has remained strong and without regrets.  As we say in Florida, “our blood has thinned”.   When the temperature dips below 55°, it feels cold to me and I’m glad to be living in the South Florida tropics.

South Florida, my adopted home

If I never see snow again, that will be just fine with me.  On the occasional day that it goes down to the 40s or 50s (5-10° C), I dress up with my warmest clothes from the past and complain along with the Florida natives how cold it is.  

November 30: End of “Summer”

Today is November 30, 2020 and it’s the end of the season.

It is actually the end of many things here in South Florida,

I’m in Palm Beach County, the big blue county on the Atlantic side near the bottom

where December 1 is the start of the winter dry season. After all, Thanksgiving is over and the Holiday decorations are quickly appearing.  Even though an occasional hurricane may slip through during December, we can most likely rule out any devastating storms until next June when the hurricane season will once again begin.

During this Year of the Pandemic, we have had a very long summer. Besides the often-heard complaint that every day runs into the next, the higher than normal temperatures that we have endured since late March have made us feel as if the summer lasted forever!  Except for a few days in the past month, it was rare that it didn’t reach at least 80 degrees since the Pandemic began. 

In South Florida, that means that by about 9 or 10 am, the temperature quickly rises into the 80s and remains so for the rest of the day.  When the occasional tropical afternoon thundershower rolls in around 4-5 pm, we sometimes enjoy a brief respite from the heat.  At dinner time outside on our patio, the decrease of a couple of degrees makes a very noticeable difference.  

In the past few days, we have been teased by some early morning cooler temperatures.  One day as we left our house for our daily sunrise walks,

it had even dropped down to 68 degrees!  We dressed in long pants and long-sleeve shirts for the occasion and I vowed to complain the whole time about what we call a cold snap. 

Old timers used to say that you know it’s cold in Florida when you have to tell your kids to put on their shoes to get the morning newspaper from the driveway.  Using that expression dates you since almost everyone receives their “newspapers” online, and young people wouldn’t even understand what you’re trying to say.  This is definitely barefoot country where wearing sandals may be considered “dressed up.”  

This afternoon, in celebration of the end of the tropical hurricane season, we are going to experience a cold front moving in from the North.  Temperatures will plummet down into the 50s!  The local weather report is warning us with words like “chilly.”

Weather Forecast: Cold Front Moves Through Overnight – Temperatures Down to the low 50s

That’s how I will describe it and I will proudly complain about it like any good almost-native Floridian.  I definitely fall into the group for whom anything below 60 degrees feels downright cold and in need of footwarmers. 

We are prepared for the yearly December weather change.  We have already shaken the dust off our warm sweaters and we look forward to wearing long pants for a few days.  Soon after, however, the breezes from the still-warm Atlantic will return us to our usual Florida reality where the days feature temperatures that we enjoy the most, the mid-70s with low humidity.   That’s a far cry from the low 90s with 80% humidity that we’ve put up with for the last 7-8 months. 

No, I am definitely not complaining.  I love the Florida weather.  I will live with the heat and humidity any day in order not to have to shovel snow or suffer through the cold, dreary gray days in the 40s that I remember from my childhood.   I will gladly forfeit the “change of seasons” that our snowbird friends love to brag about.  For me, I will continue to get up every morning before the sun rises just to be able to observe nature at its colorful best while the conditions are almost consistently ideal.    

A typical Florida early morning sky