Florida Division of Emergency Management officials are urging residents and visitors across Florida to prepare for temperatures near or below the freezing point tonight through Thursday. Very strong northwesterly winds will push an arctic air mass into the Southeast United States throughout the day which will cause frigid daytime and overnight temperatures about ten to twenty degrees below normal with colder wind chill values. Freeze and Hard Freeze Warnings are in place for 60 of Florida’s 67 counties tonight and may be extended for portions of the state into Thursday and Friday. A Wind Chill Advisory is expected to be in effect for nearly all of Florida by tonight.
“The duration and intensity of these cold temperatures can pose a danger to pipes, pets, agriculture and persons without adequate shelter or heating,” said Division of Emergency Management Director David Halstead. “We urge all Floridians to take the necessary precautions to protect their families and property from this cold weather event.”
A Hard Freeze Warning is in effect for all of North Florida, with temperatures dropping below freezing just before midnight and reaching the mid to upper 20s before sunrise both Wednesday and Thursday. The Hard Freeze Warning includes Alachua, Bay, Baker, Bradford, Calhoun, Citrus, Clay, Columbia, Dixie, Duval, Escambia, Flagler, Franklin, Gilchrist, Gulf, Gadsden, Hamilton, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Levy, Liberty, Madison, Marion, Nassau, Okaloosa, Putnam, Santa Rosa, St. Johns, Suwannee, Taylor, Union, Wakulla, Walton and Washington counties.
There is also a Freeze Warning in effect for all interior and western counties in Central Florida Wednesday night with freezing temperatures expected for three to six hours early Thursday morning. Glades, Hendry, inland Collier and western Palm Beach counties are under a Freeze Warning tonight for four to seven hour durations of temperatures between 27 and 32 degrees. Freeze Warnings may be issued once again for most of these areas on Thursday night.
In addition, winds between 5 and 15 mph overnight will produce wind chill values in the teens across North Florida and in the low 20s to low 30s throughout Central and South Florida. Wind Chill Advisories are possible across North Florida for Thursday night as well.
Wind Chill Advisories or Warnings mean the combination of very cold air and strong winds will make temperatures feel colder than they actually are. Hard Freeze Warnings and Freeze Warnings are issued when sub-freezing temperatures are imminent or highly likely for a prolonged period of time.
These conditions can kill crops and other sensitive vegetation. Young children, the elderly and the homeless are especially vulnerable to the cold so take measures to protect them. Exposed water pipes need to have adequate protection from the cold temperatures.
Residents and visitors should remember the "Five P's" of cold weather safety. The “5 P’s” are: Protecting People, Protecting Plants, Protecting Pets, Protecting Exposed Pipes, and Practicing Fire Safety.
The following actions are important safety measures:
• Stay indoors and use safe heating sources.
• Be aware of the fire danger from space heaters and candles. Keep such devices at least three feet away from all flammable materials such as curtains and furniture, and install recommended smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
• Indoors: Do not use charcoal or other fuel-burning devices, such as grills that produce carbon monoxide. Install at least one carbon monoxide detector per floor in your home.
• Outdoors: Stay dry and in wind-protected areas.
• Wear multiple layers of loose-fitting, warm clothing.
• Drink non-alcoholic fluids.
• Shelter or bring inside animals, especially pets.
For more information on the Florida Division of Emergency Management and to GET A PLAN!, please visit: www.FloridaDisaster.org. Follow us on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/flsertinfo or join our blog at: http://flsertinfo.blogspot.com/.