While heavy snow and hurricane-force winds continue to blast portions of the northeast with epic winter storm conditions in the middle of the blizzard bomb, the National Weather Service is warning that more than snow will fall onto the ground tomorrow in the wake of the big storm: iguanas in Florida! The National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center is warning the public to watch out for falling iguanas in the Sunshine State.
The bombing cyclone responsible for the blizzard conditions will continue to move north and east into eastern Canada. 1-2 feet of snow have already fallen across portions of Delaware, New Jersey, and New York, with more than 2 feet reported in Massachusetts. Snow will continue to fall, blow, and drift in the northeast, with some areas approaching 3′ storm totals. In addition to the heavy snow, hurricane-force wind gusts in the 75-80 mph range are blasting portions of the northeast coast, whipping up huge waves onto shore while drifting snow into drifts that are measured by yards rather than feet. On the back-side of the storm system, frigid air will rush into the eastern United States as far south as southern Florida.
In Florida, very cold readings are expected across most of the state, prompting the National Weather Service to issue Freeze Warnings. Freezing weather is bad news for Florida’s agriculture economy; solid freezes could crush citrus crops and impact other fruits, vegetables, and even livestock tonight into tomorrow. While the Space Coast is forecast to dip into the upper 20’s, the Gulf Coast cities of Tampa, Ft. Meyers, and Naples will flirt with the freezing mark, with low temperatures of only 33 degrees expected there. Temperatures will only be a degree or two milder than that at eastern cities along the Atlantic, including Ft. Lauderdale and Miami with readings in the 34-37 degree range likely there.
These cold readings will also impact some critters unique to Florida. The National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center warns, “Some of our iguana friends down there go dormant in such conditions and could take a tumble.” This won’t be the first time iguanas have fallen out of trees and onto sidewalks …and even people. In 2020, the National Weather Service office in Miami issued an alert to warn people of the possibility of iguanas falling. “Falling iguanas possible tonight,” the National Weather Service warned. They added, “Iguanas are cold blooded. They slow down or become immobile when temps drop into the 40s. They may fall from trees, but they are not dead.”
When temperatures thaw out and rise into the upper 40’s, the cold blooded iguanas can become mobile again, and will return to the places they fell from. While a short-term blast of cold air won’t harm them, temperatures in the 40’s or less for extended periods of 8 hours or longer can kill them.
Iguanas are native to warm, tropical locations of Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. Iguanas can grow quite large: they can grow to over 5 feet in length and weight up to 17 pounds. There are no iguana species that are actually native to Florida. Instead, the three main species currently living throughout the state are invasive species, introduced by humans from nearby islands in the 1960s and 1970s. Because they are invasive and have no predators, their population continues to grow unchecked in Florida.