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Winter alerts in effect as coldest air of the season arrives to Florida

January 16, 2024

The coldest air of the season so far is expected to arrive to Florida on Tuesday night. This airmass closely trails a cold front that continues to produce wintry precipitation and thunderstorms across the northern half of the state Tuesday afternoon. Near and below freezing temperatures are expected across Florida's Panhandle and the northern half of the peninsula overnight Tuesday into Wednesday morning. Freeze alerts have already been issued in advance of the sub freezing temperatures.

Early on Tuesday morning a strong cold front was positioned near the Pensacola area. Widespread shower and thunderstorm activity had developed in the vicinity of the boundary. In the western Panhandle, temperatures fallen to near freezing and there were some reports of freezing rain and wintry precipitation over interior sections of Santa Rosa and Escambia counties.

Throughout the remainder of the day Tuesday, the cold front will continue tracking southeastward through the Florida peninsula. Scattered downpours and thunderstorms will remain possible, and the environment will be marginally supportive of a few damaging wind gusts or brief tornadoes. Behind the front, winds will have a northerly component, and the coldest air of the season so far is expected to arrive to the Sunshine State.

Areas of the Panhandle and northern Florida are under a Hard Freeze Warning overnight, and lows could fall into the middle 20s for several temperatures. Further south, a Freeze Warning is in effect, where temperatures are also expected to fall below freezing for a few hours early Wednesday morning.

A Wind Chill Advisory is also in effect through 9 AM Wednesday. Winds are not expected to be particularly strong, but the addition of wind with the already cold temperatures could make it feel even colder. Wind chill values could be as low as the middle teens. Wednesday’s temperatures will remain much cooler than average. Highs Wednesday may only reach the 40s in some areas of north Florida. By Thursday morning, lows may be a tad warmer than Wednesday, but many areas could still register near or just below freezing. Widespread frost is expected, especially over the Panhandle and North Florida. However, Thursday afternoon, highs should warm into the 60s ahead of another storm system that will bring showers by Thursday night. Another dose of cold air is slated to arrive by the weekend.

Sources include nearest National Weather Service office, National Hurricane Center, and the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network (@FloridaStorms).
Sources include nearby emergency management agencies, FEMA, and your local NPR affiliate. 
Sources include the Florida Department of Transportation, Florida Highway Patrol and other nearby traffic information.

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Partners of the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network include: Florida's Division of Emergency Management, WDNA (Miami), WFIT (Melbourne), WMFE (Orlando), WFSU (Tallahassee), WGCU (Fort Myers), WJCT (Jacksonville), WKGC (Panama City), WLRN (Miami), WMNF (Tampa-Sarasota), WQCS (Fort Pierce), WUFT (Gainesville-Ocala), WUSF (Tampa), WUWF (Pensacola) and Florida Public Media.

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