BROOKSVILLE — Time to prepare extra pots of broccoli and cheese soup, bring in those iguanas and bundle up tight for the night.
Hernando County and the rest of the Nature Coast are about to endure their first bout of wintry weather.
The National Weather Service is predicting lows in the upper 20s this morning and Wednesday morning, the chilly temperatures a remnant of a cold front that swept through the Tampa Bay area over the weekend.
Temperatures should rebound into the 60s during the daytime, and by Thursday residents can again trade winter coats for T-shirts.
"It's the first winter blast that we've recorded this season," said Anthony Reynes, a meteorologist with the National Weather service in Ruskin. "But this isn't something we'd consider out of the ordinary for mid November. This is the time to have these cold fronts."
At the Rising Sun Cafe in downtown Brooksville, employee Gail Witek said a steady stream of customers came in for hot bowls of soup on Monday. Broccoli and cheese is served on Mondays and Thursdays, French onion on Tuesdays and Fridays, and baked potato on Wednesday.
"We're always prepared," Witek said. "We don't like to run out."
Kathy Oleson, owner of Boyett's Grove in Spring Lake, said she wasn't expecting enough of a chill to damage any of her crops. However, the iguanas, birds and monkeys that populate the property must be brought in at night to escape the cold.
There's also a bright side to the brief brush with cold for Oleson: The chill combines with the ethylene in the fruit to make the oranges more orange and the grapefruits more yellow.
"It makes the fruit really pretty," Oleson said.
County officials didn't have plans to open a shelter as a result of the brief cold snap but noted that Jericho Road Ministries in Brooksville would be available for those seeking refuge.
Reynes advised residents to simply stay out of the cold, bring in pets and sensitive plants for the night, and beware of starting fires in these dry conditions.
"We have very, very good conditions for wildfires to start," Reynes said. "It's important for people to not start fires outside for the next two or three days."
Joel Anderson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 754-6120.