Hurricane Science Legend Dr. Robert Simpson Dies at Age 102

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 11:29 PM GMT on December 19, 2014

Dr. Robert Simpson, one of the originators of the familiar Saffir-Simpson scale, passed away peacefully in his sleep today at the age of 102. Dr. Simpson began his meteorology career in 1940. During the early 1950s, he urged the U.S. Weather Bureau management to fund modest levels of hurricane research, but budgets didn't allow this. However, the devastating 1954 Atlantic hurricane season changed the minds of several New England congressmen. A special appropriation was passed to improve the Weather Bureau's hurricane warning system, and Bob Simpson was appointed to head up the National Hurricane Research Project in 1955. He held that post until 1959, when he left the Project to finish his doctorate in meteorology at the University of Chicago. Bob led Project Stormfury in the early 1960s, which explored the use of cloud seeding to modify hurricanes. Although Stormfury failed in its goal of reducing the destructiveness of hurricanes, the observational data and storm lifecycle research helped improve hurricane track and intensity forecasts. Bob went on to become the director of the National Hurricane Center (NHC) from 1967 - 1974.


Figure 1. Bob Simpson (seated) with (from left to right) NHC hurricane specialists Dan Brown, John Cangialosi, Eric Blake, Todd Kimberlain; hurricane scientist Dr. Bill Gray of Colorado State; and former NHC director Max Mayfield. Photo taken by Bill Thorson in April 2012 at the 30th Conference on Hurricanes and Tropical Meteorology of the American Meteorological Society in Ponte Verda Beach, Florida.

My experience hearing Dr. Simpson speak
I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Simpson speak back in April 2012, when he gave the opening talk at the 30th Conference on Hurricanes and Tropical Meteorology of the American Meteorological Society in Ponte Verda Beach, Florida. He was in amazing shape for a 99 year-old! He described his work with civil engineer Herb Saffir, who worked for the United Nations to develop low-cost housing all over the world that could withstand strong winds. Saffir and Simpson worked together, using data from aerial surveys of hurricane damage that began with Hurricane Audrey in 1957, to help develop their famous scale, which assigns a Category 1 through 5 rating to a storm based on its winds. The Saffir-Simpson scale was finally published in 1973, and gained widespread popularity after Neil Frank replaced Simpson as the director of NHC in 1974. The audience gave Dr. Simpson a standing ovation for making the effort to travel to the conference and give a talk.


Figure 2. Dr. Robert Simpson addresses the 30th Conference on Hurricanes and Tropical Meteorology of the American Meteorological Society on April 15, 2012, assisted by session chair Dr. Greg Holland.

Dr. Simpson and the Great 1919 Atlantic-Gulf Hurricane
In a remarkable 1989 interview conducted by hurricane scientist Dr. Ed Zipser of the University of Utah, Dr. Simpson related his experience with the great 1919 Atlantic-Gulf Hurricane, the year that he entered elementary school, which led to his life-long interest in hurricanes:

”I was attending the David Hirsh School on North Beach in Corpus Christi when the great 1919 hurricane struck— the worst Corpus Christi has ever experienced. As luck would have it, the hurricane arrived on a Sunday morning. If it had been on a school day, I would probably have been among the several hundred casualties, because the school building, which was sought out by residents as a shelter, was destroyed. In this hurricane we were all less impressed with the wind than with the spectacular rise of water. The storm surge, as viewed from our near-shoreline residence, arrived in two sudden rises. The first put water about two feet over downtown street levels and occurred in a matter of ten to fifteen minutes at most. The second came one to two hours later when, in a matter of minutes, flood levels rose 6-8 feet over street level. This began to flood the interior of our house which was built quite high. The family had to swim—with me on my father’s back—three blocks in near hurricane force winds to safe shelter in the courthouse— the only high building in the downtown area. A lot of what I saw frightened me, but also supplied a fascination that left me with a lifelong interest in hurricanes.”



Bob Simpson had a huge impact on hurricane science, and he will be greatly missed.

Jeff Masters


The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

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425. Sfloridacat5
8:24 PM GMT on December 21, 2014
There is already major changes from the 06z to the 12Z GFS.
The 12Z is much less excited about dropping snow on the Mid Atlantic.
But who knows what the models will show a week from now?

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
424. WunderAlertBot (Admin)
8:23 PM GMT on December 21, 2014
JeffMasters has created a new entry.
423. Sfloridacat5
8:16 PM GMT on December 21, 2014
Quoting Drakoen:
Here we go again (lol). The medium range models are indicating a post Christmas snow storm for the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast.



I posted this earlier today. Washington will have a party after seeing this.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
422. Drakoen
8:12 PM GMT on December 21, 2014
Here we go again (lol). The medium range models are indicating a post Christmas snow storm for the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast.

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
421. Catherdr
8:10 PM GMT on December 21, 2014
Quoting 419. hydrus:

Greetings Eric..I too , am going by memory. I am certain it was 87/88 or 88/89.


Christmas 1989 was when I-10, 1-75 and I-95 were all shut down in South Georgia and North Florida due to snow and ice. My late wife was in South Georgia Medical Center in Valdosta recovering from a stroke. I watched ambulances coming into the emergency room from wrecks on I-75 from her hospital room.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
420. Sfloridacat5
8:08 PM GMT on December 21, 2014
Back on Dec. 19th, the GFS predicted this setup for Christmas Eve. We'll have to see how accurate this ends up being. That's 5-6 days out. That's about as far out as you really want to go putting trust in a model.


The GFS also did a pretty good job of prediction the storm before Thanksgiving.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
419. hydrus
8:00 PM GMT on December 21, 2014
Quoting 411. EricfromJax:



Hydrus,
I think that winter even though Fort Myers didn't get anything, I might be wrong but I think that was the winter where it snowed an inch or so in Jacksonville around Christmas time.

Eric
Greetings Eric..I too , am going by memory. I am certain it was 87/88 or 88/89.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
418. Sfloridacat5
8:00 PM GMT on December 21, 2014
Quoting DeepSouthUS:


If the models are correct--and it usually isn't this far out--then Northern Florida will see a New Year's Day ice storm. About 1/10 to 1/8 inch of ice will cripple roads in those areas. We all know what Ice storms do to Florida, eg 1973 and last year.


Yeah, right now there isn't any agreement with the ECMWF.
The ECMWF shows a low over the Ohio Valley region on Dec. 31 with warm air over the Eastcoast and cold air dumping in behind the system.
The GFS develops a low down in the GOM that tracks across Fl with cold air well established across the S.E.

Both models agree that cold air will push down into the U.S. around the end of the month/beginning on January. Other than that the models are showing a completely different setup for that time frame.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
417. sar2401
7:58 PM GMT on December 21, 2014
Let's take a trip down the GFS memory lane. This is what the GFS issued on December 14 said things would look like today:





A cold front has moved all the way south of Florida, a NE low is sitting off DelMarVa, and strong high pressure is dominating the Plains.

Let's see what it actually looks like today:

Link


What we really have is a stationary front draped over central Florida with a low in the Gulf. That monster high in the Plains is now a developing low pressure system. The NE low just never developed at all but we do have a weak trough over the Carolinas. The temperature forecast was just as wrong. Something to keep in mind when you look at long range models. I didn't even bother with 10 models. They have about a 20% to 30% chance of being right, so a winter weather dartboard has a better chance of being right.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
416. hydrus
7:57 PM GMT on December 21, 2014
Quoting 415. georgevandenberghe:



I think that was the following winter 89-90. December 89 was extremely cold with a winter weather event about the 24'th or so down to N Central FL.
Was at work Christmas Eve night when it snowed..No stick , just bunches of flurries...Neat stuff.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
415. georgevandenberghe
7:44 PM GMT on December 21, 2014
Quoting 411. EricfromJax:



Hydrus,
I think that winter even though Fort Myers didn't get anything, I might be wrong but I think that was the winter where it snowed an inch or so in Jacksonville around Christmas time.

Eric


I think that was the following winter 89-90. December 89 was extremely cold with a winter weather event about the 24'th or so down to N Central FL.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
414. DeepSouthUS
7:24 PM GMT on December 21, 2014
Quoting 394. Sfloridacat5:




If the models are correct--and it usually isn't this far out--then Northern Florida will see a New Year's Day ice storm. About 1/10 to 1/8 inch of ice will cripple roads in those areas. We all know what Ice storms do to Florida, eg 1973 and last year.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
413. sar2401
7:24 PM GMT on December 21, 2014
Quoting georgevandenberghe:


Winter 72-73. NOLA had two measurable snow events. I think over 1" both times.

DCA (Washington DC official) total... 1/10" for the season.
Our last white Christmas, defined as measurable snow at some point on Christmas Day, was in 1919. We had a near miss with a trace in 1962 on Christmas eve but it was gone before midnight. As you might imagine, I don't hold my breath waiting for a white Christmas. :-)
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
412. Sfloridacat5
7:12 PM GMT on December 21, 2014
Quoting EricfromJax:


Hydrus,
I think that winter even though Fort Myers didn't get anything, I might be wrong but I think that was the winter where it snowed an inch or so in Jacksonville around Christmas time.

Eric


I think that was the winter the pipes to our solar system on the roof froze up and busted open. I'm not 100% sure though.
I'll have to check. I thought it was around 1995 but I'm not sure.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
411. EricfromJax
7:00 PM GMT on December 21, 2014
Quoting 406. hydrus:

The winter of 88/89 was warm in S.W.Florida. If my memory is correct , 65 of those days were above 80 , and it only was near freezing twice at night .Winter was basically a no show.


Hydrus,
I think that winter even though Fort Myers didn't get anything, I might be wrong but I think that was the winter where it snowed an inch or so in Jacksonville around Christmas time.

Eric
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
410. Sfloridacat5
6:34 PM GMT on December 21, 2014
Quoting hydrus:
The winter of 88/89 was warm in S.W.Florida. If my memory is correct , 65 of those days were above 80 , and it only was near freezing twice at night .Winter was basically a no show.


I just checked February, 2014 and we had 20 days with temperatures in the 80s.
Only two nights with temps in the 40s.

It was pretty much warm the entire month of February last year.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
409. georgevandenberghe
6:28 PM GMT on December 21, 2014
Quoting 299. PedleyCA:

Redskins 27, Eagles 24 .... what's up with that?

Chargers-49ers coming up soon. Go Chargers....



There is a great disturbance in the force.
Look for signs of icing in Hades.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
408. PedleyCA
6:26 PM GMT on December 21, 2014
Indian Hills, Riverside, California (PWS)
Updated: 10:09 AM PST on December 21, 2014
Haze
55.7 °F / 13.2 °C
Haze
Humidity: 83%
Dew Point: 51 °F / 11 °C
Wind: 4.0 mph / 6.4 km/h / 1.8 m/s from the SE
Wind Gust: 5.0 mph / 8.0 km/h
Pressure: 30.14 in / 1020 hPa (Steady)
57.2F here supposed to 66F today and 76F tomorrow.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
407. georgevandenberghe
6:25 PM GMT on December 21, 2014
Quoting 397. Patrap:

Come Xmas day here, it will be 10 years since NOLA had Xmas Day snow.




Winter 72-73. NOLA had two measurable snow events. I think over 1" both times.

DCA (Washington DC official) total... 1/10" for the season.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
406. hydrus
6:11 PM GMT on December 21, 2014
Quoting 405. Sfloridacat5:

Last January here in Fort Myers

2 nights in the 30s (37 on Jan. 17th, 39 on Jan. 19th)
7 nights in the 40s

So we had some cold air. Some years we never even get down in the 30s.

But we had 9 days with highs in the 80s. That was pretty surprising. 80s in January is pretty warm.

The winter of 88/89 was warm in S.W.Florida. If my memory is correct , 65 of those days were above 80 , and it only was near freezing twice at night .Winter was basically a no show.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
405. Sfloridacat5
5:55 PM GMT on December 21, 2014
Last January here in Fort Myers

2 nights in the 30s (37 on Jan. 17th, 39 on Jan. 19th)
7 nights in the 40s

So we had some cold air. Some years we never even get down in the 30s.

But we had 9 days with highs in the 80s. That was pretty surprising. 80s in January is pretty warm.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
404. hurricanes2018
5:33 PM GMT on December 21, 2014


cold weather in the new year of 2015??
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
403. hydrus
5:31 PM GMT on December 21, 2014
Looks like last year.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
402. Patrap
5:28 PM GMT on December 21, 2014
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
401. Patrap
5:25 PM GMT on December 21, 2014
Quoting 399. luvtogolf:



I thought we were supposed to get up to 7 inches with tornadoes?


Never listen to Model Frame posters, thats not a forecast, its model frame posting.

: P
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
400. tampabaymatt
5:18 PM GMT on December 21, 2014
Quoting 399. luvtogolf:



I thought we were supposed to get up to 7 inches with tornadoes?


Well, tonight might be interesting rainfall wise. The Bay News 9 computer model was showing some pretty heavy convective rain hitting the Tampa Bay area. However, the same model showed the squall line front clearly weakening as it comes through on Wednesday. That seems to always happen, so not a big surprise. It actually seems like tonight into tomorrow morning is our best chance of getting significant rain.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
398. Doppler22
5:13 PM GMT on December 21, 2014
Upper 50's and rain on Christmas Eve... really? Ew.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
397. Patrap
5:12 PM GMT on December 21, 2014
Come Xmas day here, it will be 10 years since NOLA had Xmas Day snow.

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
396. tampabaymatt
5:11 PM GMT on December 21, 2014
Quoting 377. Sfloridacat5:

12z GFS has shifted some of the heaviest precipitation further up towards the Panhandle of Florida.
We'll have to see if this changes with the next runs. I'm hoping to get some of the heavier rain down here in S.W. Fl.



Local mets in Tampa are saying 70%-80% chance of rain for us tonight through the overnight. Then, rain chances are not that impressive Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday afternoon the front comes through, but seems to weaken as it hits the west coast of Florida. Again, this is all per local mets. I don't pretend to know what's going to happen. It seems like the only way Tampa will pick up 3-4 inches of rain over the next 5 days is if we get slammed tonight. It doesn't seem like the front will be a huge rainmaker.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
395. TropicalAnalystwx13
5:10 PM GMT on December 21, 2014
Quoting 394. Sfloridacat5:



The GFS has been off/on for days over a snow/ice threat for the Southeast around the December 31-January 1 period. We'll see how things trend over the coming days.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
394. Sfloridacat5
5:03 PM GMT on December 21, 2014
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
393. capeflorida
5:00 PM GMT on December 21, 2014
It's beginning to look like Chris.............. NOT!!!!
Warm and humid down here today! Not feeling the spirit at all.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
392. hydrus
4:53 PM GMT on December 21, 2014
Quoting 390. georgevandenberghe:



Christmas 1983 Fort Myers beach. Icicles hung off our beach house faucet and it was windy in the low 30s AM getting to about 40 PM.
I lived on Captiva then..Frost on the pilings...Very rare indeed.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
391. hydrus
4:50 PM GMT on December 21, 2014
This shows whats to come..Especially with the ridge returning to the west coast.

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
390. georgevandenberghe
4:43 PM GMT on December 21, 2014
Quoting 379. CybrTeddy:



Now you know what it's like to be a Floridian every Christmas.

Well, except for the fact we're predicted to only get to 63F on Christmas Day, but still...


Christmas 1983 Fort Myers beach. Icicles hung off our beach house faucet and it was windy in the low 30s AM getting to about 40 PM.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
389. Barefootontherocks
4:42 PM GMT on December 21, 2014
But if I wore a shirt and tie to work, people would get suspicious.
LOL
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
388. georgevandenberghe
4:41 PM GMT on December 21, 2014
Quoting 386. Barefootontherocks:

Dr. Gray is wearing a tie.


I actually like ties. I don't like the crisp shirts one must wear with them but ties really are
the only way for a business dressed man to accessorize since the 50s when hats went
out of style.

But if I wore a shirt and tie to work, people would get suspicious.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
387. georgevandenberghe
4:35 PM GMT on December 21, 2014
It sounds like Dr Simpson kept active after "retirement". For many meteorologists the quotes
are appropriate since people in this field tend to both delay retirement and stay active after formal
retirement.. a sign of a good work life environment and career satisfaction. It looks to me (I haven't formally
looked at the numbers) is that our divorce rate is lower than the national average also. Since I also work
with a lot of computer jocks I can see the contrast. Computer jocks tend to burn out and retire early (yeah there
are many exceptions) . I'm hoping the met side translates to my future.. so far it seems to.

I can't overstate what a huge hidden life benefit this is for people in our field.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
386. Barefootontherocks
4:34 PM GMT on December 21, 2014
Quoting 376. PeterLLLLL:

I love it that Dr Simpson is the only scientist in these photos wearing a tie! Some of the younger folks in the first picture are actually wearing T-Shirts and flip-flops, to an important scientific conference. I'm old enough to have known a few top scientists of Dr Simpson's generation, they certainly brought a seriousness and professionalism to their fields that does sometimes seem lacking today. I know, times change, and there are plenty of people doing great science today that don't even own a necktie.
Dr. Gray is wearing a tie.

Add:
:)
The bolo tie was made the official neckwear of Arizona in 1971. New Mexico passed a non-binding measure to designate the bolo as the state's official neckwear in 1987. On March 13, 2007, New Mexico Governor, Bill Richardson, signed into law that the bolo tie is now the state's official tie.[2] Also in 2007, the bolo tie was named the official tie of Texas.[3] Politicians and officials from western states will often wear them, such as former Montana Governor, Brian Schweitzer.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
385. Climate175
4:34 PM GMT on December 21, 2014
Quoting 380. washingtonian115:

Yes......Very pathetic.
I like your new icon.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
384. Sfloridacat5
4:31 PM GMT on December 21, 2014
18Z on Christmas day.
Only a small area of the country will be below freezing for a high temperature on Christmas.

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
383. georgevandenberghe
4:30 PM GMT on December 21, 2014
Quoting 324. HurrMichaelOrl:


You are absolutely right. Metro Orlando is definitely a solid zone 10a and Metro Miami is zone 11a(though rural extreme S Fl west of Miami is 10b or in many cases 10a). I attribute this to increasing urbanization, and while natural multi-decade fluctuations will continue as they have since before man kind, such as the cold 1980s, the warming effects of urbanization will continue and increase (for as long as organized human civilization continues in a given area at least). The most recent version of the USDA hardiness zones map for FL looked pretty close to spot on, excluding the urban heat islands around the state.

DCA is on the border of Zone 8b and 9a. The rest of the metro area is realistically zone 7b although I wonder if we are transitioning to 8a. If we can get to 8b I can grow florist gardenias outside. Hardy ones with a shorter bloom period and stronger dormancy response (No Christmas flowers for you!!) are hardy to zone 7a.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
382. Andrebrooks
4:29 PM GMT on December 21, 2014
The Weather Channel is starting to forecast a southern snow event near New Years.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
381. LargoFl
4:23 PM GMT on December 21, 2014
AREA FORECAST DISCUSSION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TAMPA BAY RUSKIN FL
958 AM EST SUN DEC 21 2014

.UPDATE...
SHOWERS ARE CONTINUING TO MOVE THROUGH NATURE COAST AND ADJACENT
GULF WATERS ALONG A STATIONARY BOUNDARY ASSOCIATED WITH LOW
PRESSURE POSITIONED IN THE EASTERN GULF OF MEXICO. 12Z SOUNDINGS
FROM KTBW AND NEIGHBORING SITES SHOW THAT THE LOWER LEVELS HAVE
MOISTENED SIGNIFICANTLY OVER THE LAST 24 HOURS AND THAT MID LEVEL
TEMPERATURES HAVE COOLED OFF A COUPLE DEGREES. THROUGH THE REST OF
TODAY AND TONIGHT...RAIN SHOWERS SHOULD INCREASE IN INTENSITY AND
SPREAD SOUTH TO AT LEAST AROUND THE INTERSTATE 4 CORRIDOR. A FEW
TICKS OF LIGHTNING HAVE POPPED UP OVER THE GULF THIS MORNING...AND
WITH MORNING SOUNDINGS SHOWING STEEPER MID LEVEL LAPSE
RATES...WOULD NOT BE SURPRISED TO SEE ISOLATED STORMS STARTING TO
DEVELOP OVER LAND THIS AFTERNOON NORTH OF TAMPA BAY.

OTHER THAN ADDING IN ISOLATED STORMS THIS AFTERNOON...FORECAST
LOOKS ON TRACK THROUGH TONIGHT. THE POINT AND CLICK FORECAST HAS
BEEN UPDATED...AND ZONE FORECASTS WILL BE UPDATED SHORTLY.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
380. washingtonian115
4:21 PM GMT on December 21, 2014
Quoting 378. TropicalAnalystwx13:

Ugh..



P.S. 70 on Christmas Eve? Seriously?
Yes......Very pathetic.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
379. CybrTeddy
4:14 PM GMT on December 21, 2014
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Ugh..



P.S. 70 on Christmas Eve? Seriously?


Now you know what it's like to be a Floridian every Christmas.

Well, except for the fact we're predicted to only get to 63F on Christmas Day, but still...
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
378. TropicalAnalystwx13
4:08 PM GMT on December 21, 2014
Ugh..



P.S. 70 on Christmas Eve? Seriously?
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
377. Sfloridacat5
4:07 PM GMT on December 21, 2014
12z GFS has shifted some of the heaviest precipitation further up towards the Panhandle of Florida.
We'll have to see if this changes with the next runs. I'm hoping to get some of the heavier rain down here in S.W. Fl.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
376. PeterLLLLL
3:51 PM GMT on December 21, 2014
I love it that Dr Simpson is the only scientist in these photos wearing a tie! Some of the younger folks in the first picture are actually wearing T-Shirts and flip-flops, to an important scientific conference. I'm old enough to have known a few top scientists of Dr Simpson's generation, they certainly brought a seriousness and professionalism to their fields that does sometimes seem lacking today. I know, times change, and there are plenty of people doing great science today that don't even own a necktie.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
375. georgevandenberghe
3:20 PM GMT on December 21, 2014
Quoting 324. HurrMichaelOrl:


You are absolutely right. Metro Orlando is definitely a solid zone 10a and Metro Miami is zone 11a(though rural extreme S Fl west of Miami is 10b or in many cases 10a). I attribute this to increasing urbanization, and while natural multi-decade fluctuations will continue as they have since before man kind, such as the cold 1980s, the warming effects of urbanization will continue and increase (for as long as organized human civilization continues in a given area at least). The most recent version of the USDA hardiness zones map for FL looked pretty close to spot on, excluding the urban heat islands around the state.


THe revised Zones moved south about half a zone to a zone south in 1990 when the effects of the 1980s freezes were included. They were adjusted back north again in a recent revision. Landscape designers should remember it's not annual minimums that kill plants, it's the decade to century minimums that do (or variability which is not
accounted for in these zones).

I've got the zones back to 1940 somewhere but have to make an image somewhere on the web including them all and then incorporate it. It's interesting to see how far south they moved after the arctic outbreaks of the 1980s, a decade that had more of these than any other in the 20'th century. About half of all of the devastating florida freezes of the 20'th century happened in the 80s also.
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Cat 6 lead authors: WU cofounder Dr. Jeff Masters (right), who flew w/NOAA Hurricane Hunters 1986-1990, & WU meteorologist Bob Henson, @bhensonweather