This will be one time Floridians aren’t exaggerating about the cold weather. It actually is freezing.
Gainesville temperatures dropped 15 degrees from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Monday morning and will continue to decline throughout the evening. The wind chill could lower temperatures to 8 degrees, UF meteorologist Jeff Huffman said.
“This is a sudden change and one that Floridians haven’t experienced in a long time,” Huffman said.
Huffman said this will be the coldest the area has been since January 2010, and could even break the previous record set in 2003.
Preparations are being made accordingly for the frigid temperatures.
Columbia County schools announced they will be closed Tuesday because of anticipated wind chills and potential for black ice on the roads. WUFT News called other North Central Florida school districts and, as of 2:30 p.m., confirmed that Columbia is the only district in the area with a planned closure.
The City of Gainesville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department is running water back through irrigation pipes to prevent water from freezing, which may cause faucets to drip through Wednesday, according to a press-release issued by the city.
The National Weather Service Jacksonville office also dispatched a warning of potential black ice on roadways resulting from irrigation systems being run overnight to keep in-ground pipes from freezing.
David Donnelly, emergency management director for Alachua County, said a hard-freeze warning will be in effect from midnight to 11 a.m. on Tuesday, with a wind-chill warning from 1 a.m. to 10 a.m.
As the temperature continues to plunge, St. Francis House will open its doors to the homeless, more than doubling its usual capacity, said Theresa Lowe, executive director of the Alachua County Coalition for the Homeless and Hungry.
“When the temperature’s predicted to be 45 degrees or colder, we open up additional beds for folks,” she said. St. Francis House normally houses about 35 people, but during the temperature drop, it can accommodate an additional 60 to 80 people.
“People need to take this seriously,” Lowe said, noting that she witnesses homeless people not coming in regardless of a temperature drop. “Hopefully they have extra blankets and extra jackets to bundle up.”
Police clearances are needed before checking into St. Francis House, and they can be obtained for no charge from the Gainesville Police Department with valid identification.
If there is no availability, contact Alachua County Coalition for Homeless and Hungry at (352)376-2549.
Weather Tips from WRUF Weather:
- Pets should be brought inside if at all possible.
- Exposed pipes should be insulated with a blanket or sheet.
- Water should be left dripping in faucets to prevent freezing underground.
- Space heaters should not be left unattended and positioned least two feet from any objects on all sides.
- The elderly and young children should not venture out without the proper protection from the cold. Tuesday morning’s wind chills could cause hypothermia or frostbite if exposed for more than 30 minutes.
- Plants, flowers, and any vegetation sensitive to cold should be brought indoors, covered securely, or insulated by water.