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Cold Wave Prompts Frost And Freeze Alerts Deep Into Florida

National Weather Service

The third night of a chilly air mass is likely to be the coldest over most of the Florida peninsula, prompting the issuance of freeze warnings and frost warnings for early Thursday morning.

Strong, gusty winds behind a powerful cold front have been persistent over the state Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. That is expected to change Wednesday evening and Thursday morning as a high pressure area draws closer to the state. Mostly clear skies, light winds, dry air, and the existing cold air mass are the primary factors that are expected to cause frost and freezing temperatures over the state.

The coldest temperatures over the state are expected over interior North and Central Florida, where lows in the mid to upper 20s are forecast from the Suwannee River Valley into Northeast Florida, and for the exurbs of Tampa and Orlando. The mercury is expected to dip as low as the lower and mid 30s as far south as interior portions of Lee, Collier, Hendry, and Palm Beach counties early Thursday, where areas of frost are in the forecast. Coastal areas of the state will hold in the 40s, but temperatures near 50 along the Gold Coast and around 60 in the Florida Keys are well below their seasonal averages. The metro areas of Orlando and Tampa are likely to settle to between 35 and 40 degrees first thing Thursday morning.

Wind chills will not be as much of a factor as they have been Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, except along the immediate coast where a slight breeze may make it feel noticeably colder than the actual air temperature. The cold temperatures are unusual for the season, but no record-breaking cold temperatures are currently forecast statewide.

Noticeably warmer temperatures are forecast Thursday and Friday thanks to a more southerly wind direction. Another cold front is on the way late Friday over the Florida Panhandle, but it is expected to stall near I-4 this weekend. Cooler temperatures are likely behind this front, mainly over North Florida and the Panhandle this weekend; however, near or above average temperatures are likely from the I-4 corridor southward into South Florida if the latest forecast holds. It is worth noting the proximity of the cold front will bring a chance of rain for the Super Bowl on Sunday in Tampa.

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Ray Hawthorne
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