Despite the chill, South Florida farmers escape the frost; new cold snap before warming trend

01/23/2014 2:28 PM

01/24/2014 5:47 AM

Even though South Florida saw temperature dip into the 30s and 40s early Thursday, farmers got some relief.

No frost was reported in the fields, despite an urgent advisory issued for agricultural and interior areas of Miami-Dade, Broward and Monroe counties.

But the cool weather isn’t over. Get ready to stick on the sweater once again on Friday and through the weekend, with night temperatures expected in the 50s.

Farmers on Thursday reported no apparent damage to their crops. This was the second scare this month, with temperatures last week also plunging into the 30s in South Florida’s agriculutral areas.

"I think they will be fine," Miami-Dade Extension Director Teresa Olczyk said Thursday. She said there was "some little damage on bean and squash fields," but nothing that appeared serious.

Farmers were able to irrigate their land with sprinklers for freeze protection as long as there wasn't too much wind, she said.

Steve Stern, whose South Miami-Dade farm specializes in rare and exotic palm trees, said that freezing temperatures could have "catastrophic" consequences for his trees. He said he did not come across any frost Thursday morning.

Despite the lack of frost, farmers are still on guard for damage that could crop up later.

“What happens is you don’t see the damage until later,” said Kimberly Hosang of Kimsue Foliage in Homestead.

The coldest temperatures in Miami-Dade were recorded at a weather station at Homestead Regional Airport, said Olczyk, where the thermostat dropped to as low as 36 in the early morning hours.

Glades and Henry counties reported frost on Thursdfay morning, said Steven Ippoliti, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Miami-Dade.

Another cold front was set to move into South Florida Thursday night and Friday morning — but frost is not in the forecast.

"It could be anywhere from the upper-40s to low-50s depending on the wind chills," Ippoliti said.

Fortunately for farmers and warm-weather fans, the outlook for Friday and the rest of the weekend is promising. Temperatures are expected to climb into the low-70s on Friday, peaking at 75 on Sunday.

"It's a warming trend," Ippoliti said.

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