The coldest air mass since 2010, maybe 2003, will be arriving in North Florida on Monday. A few showers will mark the arrival of the arctic front between 8 and 10 am, followed by plunging temperatures and blustery winds Monday afternoon, capped off by possible record-setting temperatures Monday night, Tuesday, and Tuesday night. A hard freeze is likely Tuesday and Wednesday morning, and wind chills could dip into the single digits Tuesday morning at the height of the cold snap. We will be tracking the extreme cold on WRUF-TV Mornings Live from 6 to 9am both Monday and Tuesday morning, and urgent updates are available on Twitter @WRUFWeather.
BRIEF SHOWERS AND MILD MONDAY MORNING
The front should arrive in Lake City around 8am, Gainesville by 9am, and Ocala around 10. A few showers will likely accompany its passage, but they will be light and brief, lasting around an hour in most areas. Temperatures ahead of the front will hold steady or briefly rise into the middle 60s. A sudden increase in the wind will accompany the front as well, with gusts to 30 mph possible. Temperatures will fall very suddenly during the first hour after the front, likely on the order of 10 to 15 degrees.
FALLING TEMPERATURES MONDAY AFTERNOON
After an initial drop in temperature behind the front, the numbers will hold steady or slowly fall throughout the afternoon. The projected temperature in Gainesville at 3pm is 47°. During the evening commute, those numbers could be flirting with the upper 30’s. A blustery northwest wind of 10 to 20 mph, gusting at times to 25 mph will make it feel like the 40’s by noon, 30’s by 4pm, and upper 20’s by 9pm. Those heading out to enjoy the BCS National Championship game at a local establishment should take note of the midnight wind chills, which will be falling into the teens!
HARD FREEZE MONDAY NIGHT
The coldest temperatures since at least January 2010 (maybe even 2003) will arrive Monday night, with a hard freeze likely in all inland areas of North Florida. Temperatures along both coasts will also be below freezing for several hours by Tuesday morning. A “hard freeze” is defined by temperatures below 27° for a period of more than two hours. We think Gainesville will actually meet this criteria for about six straight hours, likely falling below 27 at 2am Tuesday and not rising back up until 9am later that morning. The total time below freezing in Gainesville will likely be 14 hours, with a rare lunchtime reading Tuesday of around 32°. The following is a safety checklist for residents and business owners to consider by sundown Monday:
- 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.
DANGEROUS WIND CHILLS TUESDAY MORNING
Wind chills in the single digits and teens are even cold for Midwestern residents, but to Floridians this will be shocking. The combination of wind and temperature makes this cold snap especially brutal. The coldest wind chills Tuesday morning will occur around the morning commute time and will likely range from 8 to 15. Daytime highs Tuesday will only climb to around 40, with a wind chill ALL day in the upper 20’s and lower 30’s. This will truly be an unusual experience for North-Central Floridians, something that only happens on average once a decade. The average high for this time of year is 66° and the average morning low is 42°.
RECORDS IN JEOPARDY
The National Weather Service in Jacksonville says that multiple records are in jeopardy during the pending arctic blast. WRUF Weather believes the record cold high temperature (the coldest daytime) is likely to be broken on Tuesday. It is also possible that new record lows for January 7th and 8th will also be tied or set. The exact numbers at the Gainesville Regional Airport are difficult to predict when they are extremely cold, due to many nearby influences of vegetation and development. Nonetheless, we will be tracking the numbers and pass them along on our Twitter account @WRUFWeather.