Temps to hit 20s before warming

Published: Tuesday, January 20, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 19, 2009 at 10:22 p.m.

Another shot of arctic air expected to send temperatures to the mid-20s on Wednesday and Thursday may be the last extreme cold blast for at least 10 days.

National Weather Service meteorologists said changing weather patterns will send temperatures back to near - or above - normal temperatures from Friday afternoon through early February.

Al Sandrik, the warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Jacksonville, said weather patterns will be seasonable "for the foreseeable future."

He said the upper-level troughs that have been allowing arctic air to dig deep into the South have been moving from north to south.

Those will begin moving west to east.

"That means the cold air will be trapped in the northern states," Sandrik said.

Forecasters believe that after three more days in the icebox, Alachua County should return to more seasonable temperatures: lows in the mid-40s and highs in the upper 60s.

But before those temperatures rebound, the National Weather Service forecasters say it will be cold through Friday morning.

That frigid air could produce the coldest mornings of the season.

Some computer models are predicting morning lows to hit the lower 20s both Wednesday and Thursday mornings, a prediction that Sandrik believes will not happen.

"I take that with a grain of salt," Sandrik said of the models. "But we're still expecting a hard freeze."

Sandrik based his comments on the fact that the same model predicted temperatures too low last week during a five-day chill.

Instead of lows near 20 degrees, the lows dipped to the mid- to upper 20s.

Sandrik said he doubts temperatures will hit the model predictions of 20 degrees in Gainesville, and believes the lows will hit between 24 and 26 degrees on Wednesday and Thursday.

The high temperature is not expected to climb out of the 50s today and Wednesday.

The forecast has Thursday's high temperature near 60 degrees.

After a Friday morning low in the mid-30s, the high is supposed to climb to near 70 degrees, setting the stage for seasonable temperatures through at least Groundhog Day on Feb. 2.

Officials urge people to remember to bring in potted plants, pets and other items susceptible to the cold.

Residents with pipes known to freeze may want to consider letting a water spigot drip overnight.

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