Highs over the next two days are expected to be in the mid to upper 70s
Published: Thursday, January 12, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 11, 2006 at 9:18 p.m.
Warmer weather over the next few days has local outdoor businesses optimistic about customer turnout, and homeless shelters hoping fewer families will need to seek refuge from the cold.
Temperatures today and Friday are expected to reach highs in the mid to upper 70s, according to the National Weather Service
The weekend should be partly cloudy with highs in the low 60s, and forecasts through Wednesday call for lows generally in the 40s to 50s and highs in the mid 60s to 70s, according to the National Weather Service.
Sunday morning, however, is forecast to drop to 33, and Monday morning should be in the high 30s.
The average high temperature in January is 65 degrees in Gainesville, according to the city's Web site, meaning upcoming highs could be as much as 10 degrees above normal.
Gainesville's first full weekend of 2006 came with a freeze warning as temperatures plunged below 40 degrees Friday, and low temperatures stayed there through Monday.
Local outdoor businesses and homeless shelters have weathered the new year's chilly temperatures surprisingly well, officials said Wednesday.
St. Francis House Director Kent Vann said although demand from local homeless people for nightly use of the Gainesville shelter has stayed about the same, prolonged temperature drops bring more people through the doors, especially families.
"They need to be able to stay warm," Vann said, adding that 28 percent of the people housed at St. Francis are children - most younger than 9 years old.
The shelter can house 35 people on regular nights and an additional 56 people if the temperature drops to 45 degrees and below.
While it tends to get coldest during the late night and early morning hours, recent winter chills have done little to keep customers away from The Swamp Restaurant's popular outdoor patio area, said employee Christy Vasquez.
"We're very busy," she said. "We were relatively busy throughout the (holiday) break."
College students returning to Gainesville accounted for a large part of the increase in customers, Vasquez said, but local residents and sports fans have kept the restaurant busy since mid-December watching sporting events like college basketball.
On particularly cold nights, outside heaters are used to keep the sting of winter to a minimum.
"They don't mind it too much," Vasquez said.
Out on the golf course, warmer winter weather means big business.
Ironwood Golf Course professional Bill Iwinski said higher temperatures in January can increase revenue by as much as $20,000 to $30,000 for the month.
"They like the warmer weather," he said of golfers. "Everything is pretty much weather-driven."
Cold weather can turn morning dew to frost on the course, delaying tee-off times until the grass thaws.
However, die-hard golfers seem to show up no matter what the temperature, Iwinski said.
"Even on the coldest day, we'll have a few golfers (who) want to play," he said, adding that the course generally fills up on days with nicer weather.
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