Cold weather alerts are in place across much of Florida ahead of the arrival of plunging temperatures in time for the holiday weekend.
A powerful cold front was sending much of the nation into a deep freeze Thursday afternoon, and that front has the Sunshine State in its path.
While wind-whipped snow may not be an issue Floridians have to deal with, a plunge in temperatures could lead to burst pipes and dangerously low wind chills in parts of North Florida and the Panhandle. Before the winter chill settles in for the holiday weekend, a few stray showers are possible into Friday.
Between Jacksonville and Gainesville, low temperatures Friday will fall into the lower 20s, prompting the National Weather Service offices in Tallahassee and Jacksonville to issue Hard Freeze alerts in this area. In the Orlando and Tampa area, lows near freezing could occur Friday night for the first time since January 2018.
The cold is also coming with strong winds, which will provide a biting edge to the chill. In the Panhandle and North Florida, wind chills could be as low as the single digits and teens. A wind chill advisory will go into effect Friday from Pensacola to Jacksonville, to Ocala. Be aware that frostbite and hypothermia can occur on exposed skin in as little as 30 minutes with wind chills this low. Outside of these areas, wind chills could still drop into the upper 20s and lower 30s as far south as Fort Myers.
High temperatures this weekend will be significantly below average. Locations in the Panhandle and North Florida will likely spend the majority of Christmas Eve Day below 40, with a number of spots near and along Interstate 10 likely remaining in the 30s.
Residents are encouraged to prepare their homes for the winter chill over the next day or so before the heart of the cold air moves in on Friday. To avoid issues with burst pipes, let water from faucets slowly drip while temperatures are below freezing. Residents are also encouraged to leave cabinets open under sinks to ensure heated air surrounds plumbing indoors.
While this blast of winter chill is intense, it will be short-lived. Temperatures into next week will start to gradually warm up across the entire state, with the Climate Prediction Center outlook depicting the potential for above-average temperatures for New Year’s Day.
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