What Happens When Florida Freezes?

Welcome To Florida 6 photos
Weekend WeatherThe Blizzard of 1989Frozen Firebird Trans-Am from 1989History Repeats ItselfFrozen Orange Grove in Bartow, Florida
As a native Floridian, I apologize for the absurdities of my state. However, the wild antics are magnified by an order of magnitude when ice is in the forecast. Since the forecast is calling for 24 degrees throughout the weekend’s races, heed these warnings if the Sunshine State is in your future.
This weekend, Floridians will attempt to leave their homes to enjoy motorsports of all kinds. Cadillac Attack 2022 is taking place in Orlando while the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona will experience sustained low temperatures around 24 degrees (-4 C). My own Winter survival story began in 1983, when kerosene stoves warmed my grandfather’s house.

Most homes south of Jacksonville do not have fireplaces or furnaces. Natural gas is just now reaching the state, after traveling across the bottom of the Gulf in a massive pipeline. Electric heat only goes so far, and once the ice freezes our fragile grid it is a quest for fire. To put this into perspective, Mom’s Porsche 968 had an open differential. Once the bridges froze solid, anyone without AWD was stranded for days due to the steep bridges over the Intercoastal Waterway.

Weekend Weather
Photo: University of Florida
As the deep freeze continues, we will lose millions of animals who can’t handle the cold. Starting with the aquatic life, this means invasive species like the Python snakes of the Everglades along with Iguanas that have conquered Miami. Once the weird pets are culled, the freeze will hit farmers the hardest.Our state mascot is a dinosaur, the American Alligator. These beasts can quickly shut down for a prolonged hibernation. So fear not, they will jump back to life once the sun returns.

Oranges and their citrus siblings will be kept alive two ways: The first is to burn old tires in massive bonfires throughout the night, and the second is to simply keep the sprinklers running. By coating each orange in a protective layer of ice, the flesh and juice will not be subject to temperatures lower than freezing.

Up until 2012, Florida’s Internet access was subject to cold weather. Thanks to Elon and NASA, these outages are a thing of the past. However, we are still subject to a Power Grid with less availability and reliability. When Duke Power shut down the Crystal River nuclear power plant, Florida has had less voltage to go around when times get tough.

Frozen Orange Grove in Bartow, Florida
This would be great if people just stayed home, but that is not the case here. Florida is home to more old people than Hell, and they are not dying anytime soon. Because of their age, businesses and banks are forced to remain open. With so many octogenarians on the road, crashes happen every 4 seconds around here. So, not only are you trying to get home, but you are also forced to deal with people who fall asleep behind the wheel.

This brings us to the last, and most tragic calamities that come from a Winter storm: dead cars. For those who choose to run a $47 battery from Walmart, your car will be graveyard dead this Sunday Morning. For those who drive any ancient American V6, you might want to drain the oil and coolant until the needle moves north again. Anyone with a Getrag or Quaife differential needs to chill out, and you carbureted comrades will need to manually close your chokes if you want to start.

Expect to see incredible acts of human kindness on the Monday Morning News, offset by mountains of wrecked cars at the local impound. I will be here on this island, covering the automotive world against the dark North Atlantic, stay warm everyone.

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