Cold will give way to warmer weather

How cold will it get?

Published: Thursday, January 29, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 29, 2004 at 12:00 a.m.
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Bundled up to endure the cold, kaitlyn Halsema, 11, left and Katelyn Miller, 10, play after school at Glen Springs Elemenary school.

MICHAEL WIEMAR/The Gainesville Sun
North Florida residents will wake up this morning after what was predicted to be the coldest night so far this year- but never fear, it's only temporary.
After a high of 56 degrees Wednesday, a low temperature of 25 is expected this morning, according to the National Weather Service. That's three degrees colder than the previous coldest nights earlier this month.
The Weather Service issued a hard freeze warning Wednesday for Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Clay, Columbia, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Marion, Putnam, Suwannee and Union counties. Temperatures could stay below freezing for six to 10 hours.
A regular freeze warning was issued for coastal areas, said Matt Zibura, a meteorologist at the Weather Service.
But it's probably safe for Gainesville residents to put the plants back out today. High temperatures will rebound into the low 60s today, with a low of 35 tonight.
Low temperatures will edge into the 40s on Friday night, with high temperatures in the mid-to-upper 60s through the weekend.
The same weather system that brought freezing weather to Florida on Wednesday ushered in bitter cold through the eastern half of the country.
Parts of the northern Plains had morning lows of -20 to -30, according to the Associated Press. Grand Forks tied its record low for the date at -34, and Devils Lake, N.D., recorded -35.
The storm also dropped at least 10 inches of snow across a stretch of New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.
Locally, January will probably end up about average in temperature, but below average in rainfall, according to Weather Service records.
January was running about a degree above normal through Tuesday, but this week's cold front may eliminate that difference.
December averaged 3 degrees below normal.
Both months have been dry. January rainfall was 1.68 inches below normal as of Jan. 28.
Alachua County had the highest drought index in the state Wednesday at 551 on a scale of 0 to 800, according to the Florida Division of Forestry. Parts of the county fall into the 700-range.
The dry weather could spell bad news for firefighters.
The Weather Service issued a fire weather watch for North Central Florida due to low humidity, which hovered at 23 percent Wednesday afternoon.
"That's extremely low," said Rick Dolan, Division of Forestry forest area supervisor.
January and February are the most active time for brush fires because of dead grass and low humidities, Dolan said. On average, there are more than 800 brush fires statewide in January. Most are caused by people not following guidelines when burning trash, he said.
But humidities will creep up daily, according to the Weather Service. There is a 20 percent chance of rain on Friday and a 50 percent chance of rain on Sunday.
Kathy Ciotola can be reached at (352) 338-3109 or

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