Wintry weather descends on region

Cloud cover kept area temperatures in the low 40s on Saturday.


Published: Sunday, January 11, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 11, 2004 at 2:43 a.m.
A gray, wintry haze hung over much of North Central Florida Saturday, bringing frigid daytime temperatures that kept most area residents locked up in warm buildings, at a safe distance from the chill.
"This is probably the coldest daytime we've had this winter so far," said Scott Carroll, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Jacksonville.
"It's mainly due to the clouds. If the clouds had cleared out, we probably would've gotten up into the 50s."
But with the sun blocked all day Saturday, temperatures hovered stubbornly in the low 40s - which, for many Floridians, means it's too cold to go outside.
For 28-year-old Peter Ceballo and four of his friends, the temperatures meant having to rethink their usual Saturday plans.
The group meets at the Starbucks in downtown Gainesville each Saturday to play a rousing game of dominoes, but Saturday's chill forced the avid domino fans to move their weekly game indoors - an inconvenience to the smokers in the group.
"We decided collectively, both the smokers and non-smokers, that we are just going to have to play inside," Ceballo said.
Though the smokers took occasional breaks to brave the cold and ease their cravings, that also proved to be a nuisance, both because of the cold and having to pause the game.
"People are thinking of quitting smoking," said Ceballo's friend Jesse Montano, generating a laugh from the other domino players.
Across town on NW 8th Avenue and 34th Street, at Westside Park, a few brave parents stood shivering around the swings and slides while their children played, seemingly oblivious to the cold wind whipping their faces.
"It's not bravery," said one Gainesville mother, Lyrissa Lidsky. "It's more about desperation."
Both Lidsky and her friend, fellow mother Taal Hasak-Lowy, agreed that sometimes drastic times call for drastic measures, and restless kids mean a trip to the park.
"The problem is that there aren't very many places you can go to let the kids run around that are outdoors," Hasak-Lowy said. "And how many times can you go to the mall?"
Though taking four bouncy kids to the park seemed like a good idea at the time, Hasak-Lowy was not optimistic about how long she would last.
"I think we'll be here 15 minutes more at the most," she said. "And we got here five minutes ago."
Freeze warnings in the North Central Florida area were in effect until early morning, and the rest of the state felt much of the same. Hard freeze warnings were issued for much of North Florida and the big bend area on the Gulf Coast, while freeze warnings were put in place for west-central parts of the state and a wind chill advisory extended as far south as Tampa.
In west-central Florida, a freeze warning was issued for Levy, Citrus, Hernando and Sumter counties. Levy was expected to get the coldest weather - with temperatures dipping to the upper 20s - and to remain cold longer, forecasters said.
However, a trip to the park today should not prove to be a test in endurance, as it was for the mothers at Westside Park on Saturday. Carroll said most of the cloud cover should have dispersed by this morning, and temperatures should get up into the mid-50s during the day.
By Monday, the brunt of the cold front will have been long gone, letting temperatures inch up into the mid-60s.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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