TALLAHASSEE - - Florida Division of Emergency Management officials are urging residents and visitors throughout Florida to prepare for temperatures near or below the freezing mark early Tuesday and Wednesday morning. The cold front experienced in North Florida on Sunday is continuing southward through the Peninsula today, and a secondary cold front will push through the state tonight and Tuesday. A very strong arctic air mass will arrive behind these fronts and last through mid week
“We encourage all residents and visitors across the state to be prepared for freezing and sub-freezing temperatures over the next few nights that may harm vegetation, pipes, animals and people.” said Bryan W. Koon, Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management. “These cold temperatures may prompt the opening of shelters across the state and the SERT stands ready to assist in any human or agricultural issues.”
By dawn Tuesday, temperatures are expected to plummet into the mid 20s to low 30s across North Florida and the Nature Coast and into the mid and upper 30s across much of Central Florida. North of the I-4 corridor, the National Weather Service has issued Freeze and Hard Freeze Warnings for Monday night into Tuesday morning, where freezing temperatures could last as long as 4 to 6 hours in northern Central Florida, and as long as 12 hours in North Florida. In addition, breezy winds will create cold wind chills and a Wind Chill Advisory has been issued for the entire Florida Peninsula.
On Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, temperatures will be even colder and drop into the upper teens to mid 20s across a large portion of North Florida. Lows in the upper 20s to mid 30s will extend as far south as Collier County, with mid to upper 30s forecast for Southeast Florida. This significant and widespread freeze has prompted the issuance of Hard Freeze Watches for the Panhandle, Big Bend and Nature Coast counties, along with a large portion of West Central Florida. East Central and South Florida counties from Seminole and coastal Volusia along the coast through Monroe County are under a Freeze Watch. Sub-freezing temperatures could last 2-5 hours in East Central and Southeast Florida, 6-10 hours over West Central and Southwest Florida, and 10-14 hours across Northeast Florida and the Panhandle. These Freeze and Hard Freeze Watches will be upgraded to warnings on Tuesday.
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 away from all flammable materials such as curtains and furniture, and install recommended smoke detectors.
- Outdoors: Stay dry and in wind-protected areas.
- 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.
- Wear multiple layers of loose-fitting, warm clothing.
- Drink non-alcoholic fluids.
- Shelter or bring inside animals, especially pets.
The elder population and homeless persons are especially vulnerable to the cold, so take measures to protect them. Exposed water pipes need to have adequate protection from the cold temperatures.
A Freeze Warning means sub-freezing temperatures are imminent or highly likely for at least two hours. These conditions can kill crops and other sensitive vegetation. A Hard Freeze Warning means sub-freezing temperatures are imminent or highly likely, and will kill crops and other sensitive vegetation.
The wildfire danger is also elevated due to low humidity values, strong winds and fairly dry vegetation across the state. Red Flag Warnings have been issued for North Florida areas for Monday afternoon and for the entire state for Tuesday afternoon.
For more information on cold weather safety, the Florida Division of Emergency Management and to GET A PLAN!, please visit: www.FloridaDisaster.org. Follow us on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/FLSERT and on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/FloridaSERT.
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