Harris-Mann Climatology’s annual Florida Freeze Outlook indicates a strong chance of sub-freezing temperatures as far south as Central Florida around the middle of January. Readings at that time are expected to drop into the mid to upper 20s. Below freezing temperatures for at least several hours could easily damage the citrus and vegetable crops.
According to 40-year forecaster Cliff Harris, “A damaging freeze in Florida would likely result in higher orange juice commodity prices. Orange juice futures already have risen in the past few weeks based upon the increased chances of a Florida freeze. On Jan. 8, 2011, the mercury dipped to a record 19°F near Naples.”
“The warmer El Niño sea-surface temperature event in the south-central Pacific Ocean has been replaced by a cooler ‘La Nada,’ the in-between state of a warmer El Niño and a colder La Nina within recent months. This type of pattern often allows frigid Arctic air to push far to the south, especially in January and February, which has threatened the Florida citrus crops in the past,” says meteorologist Randy Mann.
Harris-Mann forecasters see a much stronger cold wave approaching the southeastern U.S. arriving by the middle of January, 2013. “Some of this very cold air that is expected to arrive in Florida will originate from Alaska. Temperatures near Fairbanks were as cold as -50°F in November as that month was one of the coldest in the state’s history,” says Harris.