by Brigit Katz/Smithsonianmag.com
The weather warning came with a disclaimer.
“This isn’t something we usually forecast,” the Miami National Weather Service wrote on Twitter Tuesday afternoon, “but don’t be surprised if you see iguanas falling from the trees tonight.”
As temperatures in the southern part of the Sunshine State dipped between 30 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit, Florida residents encountered not slow or sleet, but frozen reptiles tumbling from trees. Cold-blooded iguanas are exothermic, meaning that they rely on environmental temperatures to maintain their own body temperature. Cold weather stuns the lizards, rendering them unable to grip the trees where they like to roost at night.
The immobile iguanas may look “dead as a doornail,” Ron Magill, a spokesperson for Zoo Miami, told Patricia Mazzei of the New York Times in 2018, but they often make it through the cold snap. “[A]s soon as it starts to heat up and they get hit by the sun rays, it’s this rejuvenation,” Magill said.
On Wednesday morning, the Miami National Weather Service informed Florida residents that the chances of “iguana ‘rain’” would drop to zero by the afternoon, as temperatures were expected to climb back up to 60 degrees Fahrenheit.