Saturday marks the 36th anniversary of the day it snowed in Miami.
It was January 19th, 1977, when snow fell in South Florida for the first time in recorded history. The snow fell as far south as Homestead and flakes even fell on sandy Miami Beach. There were even reports of snow from Freeport, Grand Bahama Island.
This was the farthest south snow had fallen since February 1899, when snow fell from Ft. Myers across the state to Fort Pierce.
How did we get snow all the way down here? A powerful cold front had moved down the state late on January 18 into the early morning hours on January 19. A strong arctic high set up to our west over the Mississippi Valley and pulled in very cold air.
At the same time a band of clouds and precipitation moved in behind the front with an upper level trough. Tampa, Fla., measured .20” of snow and Plant City, Fla., which is just east of Tampa, measured 2''. Reports of snow in West Palm Beach began around 6:10 a.m. and continued until 8 a.m.
In Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, rain began to mix with snow and eventually snow flurries fell between 8 a.m. and 9:30 a.m.
It is interesting to note that air temperatures were slightly above freezing when the snow fell, but the freezing level was only 1,500 feet above sea level. This prevented the snow from melting into rain before reaching the ground.
Miami International Airport, which is the official weather reporting site for Miami, did not observe the snowfall and, therefore, there is an asterisk in the precipitation records to indicate widespread reports of snow on that morning.
The forecast for Miami 36 years later: cloudy skies with a high of 80.