Hard freeze Saturday night
Published: Friday, January 21, 2011 at 8:40 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 21, 2011 at 6:03 p.m.
Temperatures will go from brisk to brrrr today, with lows sinking into the 20s tonight and early Sunday morning.
National Weather Service weekend forecast for Gainesville
Friday night: A chance of rain or drizzle before 7 p.m., then a slight chance of rain or drizzle after 1 a.m. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 37. North wind between 5 and 8 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40%.
Saturday: Mostly cloudy, then gradually becoming sunny, with a high near 55. Wind chill values as low as 32 early. Breezy, with a northwest wind 7 to 10 mph increasing to between 15 and 18 mph.
Saturday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 26. North wind between 3 and 8 mph.
Sunday: Sunny, with a high near 58. Wind chill values as low as 21 early. North wind between 3 and 7 mph.
Sunday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 31. Northeast wind around 5 mph becoming calm.
Gainesville residents will see clearing skies and gusty northwest winds that will make the expected high of 56 degrees today seem cooler.
Then look for temperatures to sink into the 20s tonight and early Sunday morning. A hard freeze watch is in effect tonight. That means plants, pipes and pets should be protected.
"We will see a gradual warm-up through the weekend, with temperatures near normal by Monday," said meteorologist Phil Peterson of the National Weather Service's Jacksonville office.
A fire weather watch is in effect today and Sunday, due to the low humidity and strong winds. Gail Monahan, director of the Alachua County Housing Authority, said that vouchers will be given out on three nights to provide shelter for the homeless. The housing authority and St. Francis House have contracts with the city and county to house people on cold nights. The two agencies work with a budget of $25,000 to provide shelter services each winter. With cold nights beginning in November and continuing into January, those funds have been stretched thinly, Monahan said. "Will we have enough? I sure hope so," Monahan said Friday. "We pray and then we give out the vouchers." Alachua County Fire Marshal Mark Smith warns that the night's extreme cold could put residents at risk if they use space heaters for warmth. "You should follow basic fire safety rules to reduce the chances of a fire in your home," he said. Space heaters aren't meant to replace a home heating system, and they shouldn't be used with an extension cord. They should be set on a flat, level surface — never on the furniture. And if you notice the plug becoming very hot, you should unplug it from the outlet. You may have a home wiring problem that could spark a fire. Weather service forecaster Peterson said temperatures Monday and Tuesday will climb back into the mid-60s, with a 20 to 30 percent chance of showers. But don't put away the sweaters yet. Wednesday night will see temperatures back in the 30s, Peterson said.
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