It may not look a lot like Christmas in most of Florida, but in the northern reaches of the state it is definitely starting to feel like the holiday season as temperatures will fall well into the 30s during the next couple of nights, bringing a freeze warning.
The National Weather Service (NWS) offices in Jacksonville, Tallahassee and Pensacola are issuing cold weather advisories for the next two nights as a cold front plowing through Florida will push temperatures to freezing levels in several areas and well into Georgia.
The NWS office, based at the Jacksonville International Airport, posted a “freeze warning” Tuesday. The advisory noted temperatures west of Jacksonville along the Interstate 10 corridor will drop sharply. Live Oak is projected to drop to 31 degrees while Lake City could fall to 32 degrees between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.
Meanwhile, an identical freeze warning was issued at the Tallahassee and Pensacola NWS offices with some lower temperatures projected to fall to 29 degrees in some locales.
“Young children, the elderly and the homeless are especially vulnerable to the cold. Take measures to protect them,” the National Weather Service advisory said.
In Jacksonville, the Sulzbacher Center for Housing services many homeless at two facilities in the city and has another health clinic at the Jacksonville Beaches. Sulzbacher President of Housing Brian Snow said the men’s center and women’s and family center had an increase of about 50 people seeking shelter Monday evening.
He said they expect more Tuesday into Wednesday morning.
“Any day that is projected to be 40 degrees or below we open up for cold-night shelter. We did it Monday and will be open Tuesday,” Snow said.
“Historically, the average between men, single-women and families, it’s usually in the ballpark of 50 to 70 additional clients (on top of the normal 200 people seeking shelter). What we do is we kind of prepare for that in advance to make sure we have plenty of blankets and pillows,” Snow said.
He added Sulzbacher Center officials will wait to see how cold Wednesday night might get before deciding to provide more shelter for those seeking refuge from the cold if temperatures dip below 40 degrees.
Florida residents were also advised to take protective measures for tender vegetation and outdoor pets that will likely need protection from the freezing temperatures Tuesday night through Thursday morning.
The big chill already set in Tuesday with temperatures struggling to get out of the 40s during daylight hours. NWS officials said temperatures will rebound to the 50s and possibly lower 60s in North Florida Wednesday. But the cold plunge will return for another freeze warning Wednesday night into Thursday morning before more seasonal high temperatures in 60s and 70s for Friday heading into the weekend before Christmas on Monday.
Temperatures are set to return to the mid-to-upper 60s on Christmas for much of North Florida.