Forecast: Cool weekend ahead with freeze likely Monday morning

A worker prepares for the transfer of power lines to new posts on Paynes Praire on a sunny morning Wednesday. The old posts were gone, and the ospreys were in their nest on the higher platform Thursday morning.

Joe Byrnes/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 8:21 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 9:53 p.m.

A blast of arctic air moving into Florida is expected to bring another freeze on Monday, creating a nightmare for people who planted flower and vegetable gardens prematurely.

The National Weather Service is forecasting Monday's daybreak low temperature to hit 30 degrees, possibly even the upper-20s in some rural areas throughout Alachua County.

David Holmes, Marion County's extension agent, said most planters use March 20 as the last devastating frost date in Alachua County. And this weekend's cold blast is a prime example why it is best to hold off on planting until then.

Holmes said though frost could still hit the area after March 20, it usually is not devastating. After March 20, the sun is higher in the sky and the days are longer, which means the ground is warmer and can protect the sprouts.

Jason Hess, a National Weather Service meteorologist, said temperatures could fall to freezing at daybreak Sunday, though there should be enough wind to keep the frost away.

The official forecast calls for today's high to hit the lower-60s, with a daybreak low on Saturday of 35 degrees. The high on Saturday is expected to be near 60.

Sunday morning's daybreak low should be near freezing with a high only reaching the low-50s. After Monday's low of 30 degrees, the high should rise to bout 60 degrees by the afternoon.

Hess said there is a chance for heavy frost on Tuesday morning. Though the low is expected to be a few degrees above freezing at daybreak Tuesday, frost could be heavy. That's because there will be little wind to stir the air at ground level.

Temperatures are recorded at five feet off the ground. When there is little wind, the air can settle to the ground and be a few degrees colder than the official temperature gauge. That in turn causes droplets to freeze.

The county's official forecast is issued by the National Weather Service, while the Sun's weather page uses AccuWeather forecasts. Sometimes those predictions differ. Besides the National Weather Service, some people rely on forecasts from The Weather Channel and AccuWeather.

The daybreak low on Monday will range between 30 and 31 degrees, according to those three forecasts.

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