1 weather record falls, but warm air coming

Frozen blueberry trees at Straughn Farms Windsor farm following a late night freeze Wednesday, January 4, 2012. Farm mangager Romelio Carbojal said temperatures dropped to 17 degrees early Wednesday morning.

Doug Finger/ Staff photographer
Published: Wednesday, January 4, 2012 at 8:32 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 4, 2012 at 8:32 p.m.

The century-old record low temperature registered for Jan. 4 fell to frigid Arctic air Wednesday morning — but this week's biting cold should loosen its grip on the area on Thursday.


Help with utility bills available to some

Help paying for the higher electric and gas bills that the cold brings is available at Central Florida Community Action beginning Monday, the agency announced Wednesday.
It's available to those who are within 150 percent of the federal poverty level, which means the income for a family of four can be no more than $39,255 to qualify.
Appointments are given on a first come, first served basis — and funds will not last long, according to agency officials.
To find out if you qualify, call 373-7667 on Mondays to make an appointment for assistance. Calls are accepted starting at 8 a.m.

The temperature in Gainesville fell to 20 degrees at 4:34 a.m. Wednesday — two degrees colder than the 22-degree record set on Jan. 4, 1900, according to the National Weather Service in Jacksonville.

A freeze warning is in effect into Thursday — Gainesville temperatures are expected to bottom out Thursday morning at 27 degrees. But the day will warm up quickly, with Thursday's high forecast to be just one degree less than the average high for this time of year: 65 degrees.

"We have a few clouds that will move in and sometimes that puts on a little blanket from the cold — not much, but it keeps us from feeling quite so cold," said Marie Trabert, a National Weather Service meteorologist. "Some people might think that 27 degrees is quite cold, though."

Wednesday's chilly air summoned the de-icing trucks at Gainesville Regional Airport for the third time since the cooler air started moving in this season — at the pilots' request, according to Shaun Blevins, airport operations manager.

"It's the kind of stuff that most people just turn on their windshield wipers for," said Laura Aguiar, airport spokeswoman. "We just spray the planes down with chemicals and let them go."

As the third night of a freeze warning approached, St. Francis House was getting ready to activate its round-the-clock admissions policy that allows people to get shelter no matter what time they decide to go inside. Most nights, the door is open only until 10 p.m.

This week's weather has brought in 42 to 45 extra people beyond the shelter's 35 regulars, said Kent Vann, executive director of St. Francis House.

"We haven't had to turn anyone away," he said. "Usually, the longer the cold goes, the more people come in."

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