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Cold front moving into Tampa Bay today

Oscar Oviedo laughs as he picks strawberries at Fancy Farms on Saturday in Plant City, but growers are keeping a serious eye on chilly temperatures that may hurt their crop. Strawberry farmers are prepared to crank up the sprinklers.

EVE EDELHEIT | Times

Oscar Oviedo laughs as he picks strawberries at Fancy Farms on Saturday in Plant City, but growers are keeping a serious eye on chilly temperatures that may hurt their crop. Strawberry farmers are prepared to crank up the sprinklers.

This wintry weekend will only get colder, as tonight is expected to be even chillier than last night.

Temperatures were expected to drop into the 30s and 40s early this morning and should only rise into the 50s this afternoon, said Bay News 9 meteorologist Brian McClure.

Temperatures should plunge even lower tonight and Monday morning, with lows expected to be in the 20s and 30s. Forecasters are calling for a hard freeze watch tonight in Pasco and Hernando counties.

Strawberry farmers and cold weather shelters are gearing up for the deep freeze.

Carl Grooms, owner of Fancy Farms in eastern Hillsborough, expects the coldest moments to come early Monday. "There's a possibility that we'll have frost. If so, we'll crank the sprinklers on to get water on the bushes."

His main concern is protecting the young blooms that won't be picked until next month. "We need to keep every dollar we have," he said.

Gary Parke, of nearby Parkesdale Farms, spent the day readying his fields just in case. "We got the pumps checked out and prepared to go," he said. "We are just waiting to see what happens."

Cold front moving into Tampa Bay today 02/16/13 [Last modified: Saturday, February 16, 2013 11:20pm]

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