POLK COUNTY STORMS
& FREEZES 1892-1962
At Clinch Lake, near Frostproof in Polk County, Lindus and Amelia bought acreage in 1902 and planted their first groves. A hurricane destroyed half their crop in 1903, but they kept faith and replanted.

They all sank their sweat, blood and treasure into their citrus groves and searched the sky for signs of good weather like farmers everywhere. The railroad came through in 1912 and they organized the Crooked Lake Development Corporation jointly with their sons.

Drought, disease, fire, floods, freezes, pests and storms all threatened crop loss or destruction then as now. Before 1912, without railroad service, electricity or radio, Frostproof was a very isolated town.

But Lindus and Amelia understood the risks better than their children, who were born after Cleveland's big boom and where they raised houses, not crops. In the spring, spraying and pollen from the groves can pollute the air and cause discomfort. But they learned fast, Lydia supervised the groves in 1908. The land boom of the 20s brought Roger Babson's premium offers and tested their resolve. But, Lindus and Amelia held out remembering that they pioneered Cody Villa as a legacy for their posterity, not just for profit.

Expectations rise as the crop approaches harvest time in November when a tree may carry 1200 to 1500 pounds of fruit. At that time of year, they are vulernable to freezes and tropical depressions that carry heavy rains, flooding the grove and drowning some trees. Depressions don't cause wind damage, but storms and hurricanes threaten the burgeoning fruit. Pruning reduces the risk of wind damage but also the amount of fruit. Hurricane season ends in December, but frost continues to be a danger, so smudgepots and kerosene are close at hand.

Tropical storms have winds between 39 and 73 mph and typically grove damage is light, with twigs and branches snapped, fruit downed and a few trees on the grove's windward side pushed over. With Catagory 1 and 2 hurricanes, those with winds between 74 and 110 mph, moderate damage occurs, snapped twigs and branches, downed fruit and damaged trees in the first 5 rows on the windward side of the grove. Mobile homes may be turned over and outbuildings damaged. Catagory 3 and 4 hurricanes have winds between 111 and 155 mph and cause heavy damage with many snapped or uprooted trees in the first 10 rows on the windward. Additionally, frame houses may lose their roofs, mobile homes demolished and outbuildings collapsed. In Catagory 5 hurricanes, with winds above 155 mph, whole groves suffer catastrophic damage, even sturdy buildings and vehicles may be damaged or destroyed and pavement ripped up.

These maps, created by the Florida Center for Instructional Technology show the tracks of hurricanes and tropical storms. The legend lists each storm and the dates it occurred. Mouseover the listed years alongside to see activity for that year. Polk County was hit by a tropical storm in October 1892, shown in orange on the map. Frostproof is in the SE quarter and the storm took half of the Clinch Lake crop. 'Twas a mighty storm, but we remember the good years too!

Map data supplied by the National Ocean and Atmosphere Administration. Polk County was hit by 27 storms in 70 years. Feezes came in 24 of those same 70 years. The double whammy of same-year freeze and storm occured 8 times.

Table of Years
* are direct hits, ns for no storm

The Florida Center for Instructional Technology (FCIT) is located in the College of Education, University of South Florida, at Tampa, Florida. FCIT is funded by the Florida Department of Education, school districts, educational foundations, and others to provide leadership, instructional materials, and support services to educational institutions in Florida and beyond with regard to the integration of technology into K-20 education. The Center is also funded by the USF College of Education to support USF faculty and students through the iTeach Initiative.

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