Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

First chill of the season barges in

An arctic wind blew into the Tampa Bay area Tuesday afternoon and dropped overnight temperatures near record lows, but balmy weather could return as early as Thursday afternoon.

A surge of cold, dry air reinforced a cold front that arrived over the weekend. Citrus and Hernando were the worst hit with temperatures in the high 20s forecast for tonight. Parts of eastern Pasco and Hillsborough counties will approach freezing.

"Winter is just knocking on our door," said Anthony Reynas, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

It should warm up into the high 50s and low 60s this afternoon in Pinellas and Hillsborough, then drop back into the high 30s and low 40s in many spots tonight.

"It's time to put away the flip-flops, at least through the weekend," said National Weather Service meteorologist Todd Barron.

Barron's advice: along with socks, opt for layers of long-sleeved garments and a coat. Bring houseplants inside, and cover plants in the ground. Pets should be brought indoors.

"Forty degrees in St. Petersburg is going to be pretty cold for any animal out there," Barron said.

Pinellas County had no plans for weather-related warnings because the area was expected to duck freezing weather, but Hills­borough County opened three shelters.

"When we believe the temperature could get below 32 degrees, we get very concerned about those who are out and don't have protective shelter," said Hillsborough County spokeswoman Lori Hudson.

In eastern Hillsborough County, farmers with tender crops will be on watch all night long, checking equipment and monitoring alarm-rigged thermometers that warn when the temperature dips to 35, one strawberry grower said.

"There's no strawberries to speak of, but the flowers and the buds are very vulnerable, they are very tender," said Jim Meeks, whose family farms 200 acres of the winter crop.

And at this time of year, the blossoms are too valuable to lose.

Florida provides some of the earliest berries of the season, and they bring a premium price because of the lack of competition from northern states. A freeze now could potentially be more harmful than in January or February, said Wishnatzki Farm's president Gary Wishnatzki.

In Plant City, Carl Grooms of Fancy Farms said he planned to nap early Tuesday evening and spend the night monitoring his fields.

"It's an iffy situation," he said. "You just got to watch the wind, the clouds and the thermometer to see what happens."

Gary Parke of Plant City's Parkesdale Farms said he planned to turn on the overhead irrigation if temperatures neared freezing. The irrigation creates a protective layer of water over the plants.

Other growers are tending to tomatoes, yellow squash, zucchini, peppers, eggplant and cucumbers, all tender vegetables susceptible to extreme weather.

Meanwhile, tropical fish farmers kept their outdoor ponds covered. Many fisheries covered their ponds several weeks ago to keep temperatures up even as the weather cooled, so they should be fine, said Florida Tropical Fish Farms Association director David Boozer.

Valley Fisheries in Wimauma is not concerned, said assistant manager Todd Klukey. It covered its ponds about three weeks ago.

"The fish are hardy enough," he said.

On the water, the cold front will bring rough seas, and a small-craft advisory is in effect through Thursday.

The Don CeSar Beach Resort and Spa on St. Pete Beach was expecting its usual chorus of complaints from northerners who expected warm weather.

Concierge Bridgett Hendrickson said she will send people to downtown St. Petersburg's museums but expects the tourists to fare better than the natives.

"Most of our clients that come here are from cooler weather. The know what to do," she said. "We Floridians freak out."

Stephanie Garry contributed to this report.

First chill of the season barges in 11/18/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 18, 2008 11:15pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bucs' Vernon Hargreaves: 'I'm not making any plays'


    TAMPA — Eli Manning gathered his receivers together on the sideline during the Giants' Week 4 game against the Bucs and told them he planned to target the weakest link of the secondary all afternoon.

    Patriots receiver Chris Hogan gets position in front of Bucs cornerback Vernon Hargreaves for a 5-yard touchdown pass in New England’s win on Oct. 5.
  2. Suspect in Maryland office park shooting is apprehended


    EDGEWOOD, Md. — A man with a lengthy criminal past who was fired from a job earlier this year for punching a colleague showed up for work at a countertop company on Wednesday and shot five of his co-workers has been arrested, authorities said. Three of them were killed and two critically wounded.

    Workers from the Advanced Granite Solutions in Maryland console each other Wednesday after a shooting there killed three people. Officers said the attacker fled and also shot a man in Delaware.    as police and Emergency Medical Services respond to a shooting at a business park in the Edgewood area of Harford County, Md., Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017.  A gunman opened fire at the office park killing several co-workers and wounded others, authorities said.  (Matt Button/The Baltimore Sun via AP) MDBAE105
  3. Lightning's J.T. Brown to stop anthem protest, focus on community involvement

    Lightning Strikes

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Lightning wing J.T. Brown will no longer raise his first as a protest during the national anthem before games.

    J.T. Brown says he will work more with the Tampa police and groups that serve at-risk young people.
  4. The two Ricks tangle at what may be final debate


    ST. PETERSBURG — In what was likely the last mayoral forum before the Nov. 7 election, Mayor Rick Kriseman and former Mayor Rick Baker started out small, discussing neighborhood issues like recycling and neighborhood funding. They ended tangling over familiar subjects: the future of the Tampa Bay Rays, sewage …

    Ex-Mayor Rick Baker, left, and Mayor Rick Kriseman, right, debated familiar topics. The Times’ Adam Smith moderated.
  5. Tampa Chamber of Commerce announces small business winners


    TAMPA — The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce selected the winners of the 2017 Small Business of the Year Awards at a ceremony Wednesday night at the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. More than 600 attendees celebrated the accomplishments of Tampa Bay's small business community.

    Vincent Cassidy, president and CEO of Majesty Title Services, was named Outstanding Small Business Leader of the Year by the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce.