A hard freeze night

Environmental Science major Janelle Sununtnasuk makes her way to class in afternoon temperatures in the forties, with lows in the twenties on Tuesday, January 20, in Gainesville.

Erica Brough/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 20, 2009 at 11:42 p.m.

Click here to watch State Meteorologist Ben Nelson's comments on the statewide cold weather outbreak, fire and marine threats for today and tonight.

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

The National Weather Service's forecast includes a hard freeze warning until 10 a.m. today and a hard freeze watch between 10 tonight 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, was expected to create a wind chill - a feels-like temperature - in the low teens. This likely will all happen again tonight. Look for an extended period of sub-freezing temperatures including lows down as far as 22 degrees 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 boats 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 large 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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