Hard freeze tonight and Wednesday night


Published: Tuesday, January 20, 2009 at 6:34 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 20, 2009 at 6:34 p.m.

Most of Florida, including Gainesville and Ocala, will be blanketed with the coldest weather of the winter, so far, Wednesday morning and again on Thursday.

The National Weather Service's forecast includes a hard freeze warning until 10 a.m. Wednesday and a hard freeze watch between 10 Wednesday night and 10 a.m. Thursday. The warning and the watch includes Alachua, Marion and all other North Florida counties.

The hard freeze warning was issued because temperatures were forecast to plummet after sunset and remain below freezing for eight to 12 hours. The overnight low was expected to dip to between 22 and 28 degrees.

Anyone who ventured outside overnight Tuesday likely noticed it felt even colder. The cold weather combined with northwest winds of 15 mph and gusts to 30 mph created a wind chill — a feels-like temperature —in the low teens.

This will all happen again tonight. Look for an extended period of sub-freezing temperatures including lows down as far as 22 degree in some places.

Also, a lake wind advisory has been issued because there is a possibility of sustained winds of up to 25 mph and gusts of 30 to 39 mph. Small boaters are more likely to overturn and all boaters are urged to avoid open waters during the advisory.

Also, the weather service issued a reminder for those who drive high-profile vehicles like vans to use extra caution.

Florida Division of Emergency Management State meteorologist Ben Nelson said state residents trying to stay warm should also think about staying safe.

"Freezing temperatures could persist through Friday morning across much of the Florida peninsula," said Nelson. "To ward off this cold spell, many residents may be turning on space heaters and using fireplaces, and we are urging them to do so safely."

Emergency officials encouraged residents to check their heating appliances, smoke detectors and chimneys for damage before using them.

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