A “Snow Day” for NE Florida – Baby its cold outside!


by: Kacie Couch

 

Snowy Owl in Florida

A snowy owl was recently spotted on Little Talbot Island State Park

Readers, if you think Florida weather in January is always warm and sunny, think again! Today, for the first time in years, I had to go out and buy socks. SOCKS! How inconvenient! It’s a good thing toe socks are available so I can still wear my flip flops, otherwise I would have to buy shoes, too.

Obviously that last paragraph was laden with sarcasm. It’s not always warm and sunny in the sunshine state (which means that yes, most Floridians do own and wear socks and shoes), but it rarely is as cold as it has been recently. In fact, Nassau county chose to shut down the public schools one day this month due to winter storm conditions (aka potential ice on bridges) making it potentially unsafe for transportation to and from schools. This is the second time that the schools have closed due to winter weather conditions in my lifetime and I can only imagine how much fun the children must have had on their “snow day” this year.

However, just because a “snow day” occurs to shut down public schools does not mean that it actually snows here on Amelia Island. Sure, if you’re lucky (or unlucky depending on how you look it at) you may witness a flurry on a particularly cold day in December or January, but snow has not fallen from the sky and stuck to the ground in our region since December of 1989 when Nassau County purportedly collected up to four inches of snow in some areas and a light dusting of snow in others. For the Floridians who had always dreamed of having a “White Christmas,” their dreams had finally come true.

Whether or not you are a fan of (what we Floridians consider to be) cold weather, some of our recent visitors most certainly are. Bird watchers and Harry Potter fans alike will be glad to know that cold climate lovers such as the snowy owl have been sighted in our area recently. While it is not terribly uncommon to find these birds hanging around dunes and other land formations similar to their northern tundra habitat during their winter migration, they rarely travel this far south. In fact, this recent sighting marks the first spotting of a snowy owl in Florida in decades.

Right Whale

North Atlantic right whale with calf. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission/NOAA

Of course birds aren’t the only animals to migrate to our area this winter. Every year Amelia Island witnesses the migration of the endangered Right Whales from the coasts of Canada and the Northern United States all the way down to Georgia and Florida to give birth and enjoy the less frigid water temperatures. Theses whales are up to almost sixty feet in length and can weigh up to one hundred tons. They are so big and sometimes travel close enough to the shoreline that they can be seen from a good vantage point on the beach or from a boat!

And speaking of boats, the Amelia River Cruises are still running regardless of if the schools are. Need something to do with your kids on their “snow day?” Grab some hot cocoa, buy some socks ( I do recommend toe socks- so stylish!) and head on down to the docks to join us on one of our lovely boat tours where we provide the blankets! With so many rare and migratory species in our area at the moment you never know exactly what you’ll see, but you’re guaranteed to have a good time.

See you on the boat everyone!

Buy your tickets online. Check out our newly updated calendar system.  Now you can see the date and tours instantly.  Just click on the tour of your choice and voila…

 

 

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