Day starts chilly, will warm up later

Grab your coat, boots and scarf.

Seriously, for us Floridians, It's cold out there.

Early birds in Tampa woke up to temperatures hovering around 46 degrees, and in St. Petersburg, 53 degrees, said Todd Barron of the National Weather Service.

Crystal River and Inverness felt temps in the mid 30s, and Brooksville was in the low 40s, Barron said. Areas farther north, near Cross City, had freezing temperatures overnight.

A freeze warning was in effect in Citrus and Hernando counties as temperatures inland were expected to dip into the high 20s.

The coldest areas were expected stay below freezing for a few hours, but no serious crop or plant damage was anticipated, said Bay News 9 meteorologist Mike Clay.

"They already got that cold a couple of times in the fall," Clay said. "It would be a much bigger deal if it was an area that hadn't experienced a freeze already."

Still, those who had something to lose braced themselves.

In Hernando County, where overnight temperatures were forecast to dip as low as 27, farmers spent Monday preparing their crops for the chill.

At the 18-acre Spring Lake Blueberry Farm south of Brooksville, Ruth and Larry Davis said it was about a month too early to be concerned about damage to the blueberries.

"The buds are still tight on the bushes," Ruth Davis said, "so there's no flowers out there to damage."

Over at George and Joan Casey's farm west of Brooksville, the couple hoped they would get through their first winter with strawberries with minimal loss. Their farm has about 10 acres of blueberries and a new half-acre of strawberries.

Joan Casey said they had already covered the strawberries with a frost cloth, which is supposed to keep the crop about 2 to 3 degrees warmer.

"They can't take the cold temperature like blueberries," Casey said.

Sunshine will bring the temps to the mid to upper 60s later Tuesday.

Wednesday should be in the 70s.

"It's going to warm up pretty good, but this morning it's chilly," Barron said.

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Day starts chilly, will warm up later 12/22/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 22, 2009 11:17am]

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