Florida braced for unusually cold Christmas – and falling iguanas

With unexpectedly cold weather forecast and pandemic-related curfews in some places, Florida is about to have a Christmas unlike any other – and it may involve falling iguanas.

The National Weather Service warned that south Florida could experience its coldest Christmas Day in 21 years, with morning lows in the low 30s and 40sF (below OC).

“Brrr! Much colder temps expected for Christmas,“ the NWS in Miami tweeted. “Falling iguanas are possible.“

Because they are cold-blooded, iguanas living in south Florida trees often become immobile in chilly weather, causing them to drop to the ground though they are still alive.

In Jacksonville, the temperature was expected to drop from about 80F (26.6C) on Thursday to around 30F on Friday, putting it on the path to being one of the five coldest Christmas Days on record, according to the NWS in Jacksonville.

A squall line with severe storms and fast-moving winds was headed for north Florida on Christmas Eve. Around the state, shelters were opened to take in people who would otherwise be exposed to the cold, including several churches planning to hold Christmas services.

Many shelters promised social distancing and protective equipment to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The pandemic also was impacting a Space Coast tradition: Surfing Santa Day. Normally drawing hundreds of surfers in Santa costumes to Cocoa Beach and thousands of cheering supporters, Thursday’s event was moved online. Participants were encouraged to go surfing or paddle-boarding and post photos or videos.

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Santa did get some help from one state official. Agriculture commissioner Nikki Fried this week issued “a certificate of animal movement”, permitting Santa Claus and his wife, as well as their reindeer, “to enter and exit all homes, domiciles, encampments, and premises in the state of Florida between the hours of 8pm on 24 December and 7am on 25 December, through or over any US border port.“

“Given the challenges of this year, we want to ensure Santa Claus can safely travel the state and spread Christmas joy to all of Florida’s children,” Fried said.


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