Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay region prepares for record cold

Frigid arctic air that drove temperatures below zero in nearly half the country also threatened to bring record lows to the Tampa Bay region, putting farmers on alert and opening cold-weather shelters.

A hard freeze, with temperatures at 28 degrees for two or more hours, was expected this morning in areas immediately north of Tampa Bay, including parts of Hernando and Citrus counties.

Freezing temperatures were also likely in Pasco and parts of Hillsborough counties, with slightly warmer temperatures in Pinellas and coastal areas.

"This air mass is so cold that we will have windchill factors in the low 20s across the region,'' Bay News 9 meteorologist Josh Linker said.

The high today will probably be in the high 40s, likely a record for lowest daytime temperature, and wind gusts of 15 mph or higher will make it seem much colder.

Lows tonight will plummet again into the 30s and 20s.

"It's possible it could be just as cold Wednesday morning,'' Linker said.

It's worse elsewhere.

Wind-chill dropped the "feels-like'' temperature to -50 degrees in parts of Minnesota and temperatures of zero or below were recorded in about half the states.

The cold, coming on the heels of snow in parts of the Midwest and Northeast, led to numerous flight cancellations or delays. At Tampa International Airport, 48 flights were canceled and 155 were delayed as of mid-afternoon Monday.

Meanwhile, farmers in the Tampa Bay region were preparing for the worst.

At JG Ranch, south of Brooksville, owner George Casey said temperatures are a concern, but not the only concern.

High winds will make it difficult to coat his 14 acres of mostly strawberries with a protective layer of ice. He said he needs the water droplets to land on the plants – not in the neighbor's cow pasture.

"We can control the temperature; we can't control the wind," he said. "It will be a very worrisome issue."

Greg Gude, manager of Kumquat Growers Inc., near Dade City, spent Monday making sure his irrigation system was in order. The forecasted freeze comes less than three weeks before the annual Kumquat Festival, Dade City's signature event that draws tens of thousands to the area.

"We worry and pray a lot," Gude said. "We hope it won't get that cold."

Preventative measures such as spraying and early harvesting will be common, but a couple of days of freezing weather should not mean massive crop loss, said Lisa Lochridge, spokeswoman for the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association.

"Hopefully we'll emerge unscathed," Lochridge said.

The cold air, accompanied by high winds, prompted officials to open more than a dozen cold-weather shelters in Pinellas, Citrus, Pasco, Hernando and Hillsborough counties. Some shelters offered transportation to or from those locations.

Along with warm beds, most shelters offered a hot dinner and breakfast.

Local government officials advised residents to cover plants and bring pets indoors.

Duke Energy and TECO spokespeople said the companies had adequate capacity to meet high power demands.

Staff writers Danny Valentine, Keeley Sheehan and Lisa Buie contributed to this report. Claire Wiseman can be reached at or (727)-893-8804. Follow @clairelwiseman on Twitter.

Tampa Bay region prepares for record cold 01/06/14 [Last modified: Saturday, January 11, 2014 5:29pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Two Kissimmee police officers killed; Jacksonville officers shot


    KISSIMMEE — Two Kissimmee police officers were shot and killed Friday night, and one person was taken into custody, authorities said.

    Two police officers have been shot and killed in Kissimmee, authorities say. The shooting happened in the area of Palmway and Cypress around 9:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 18, 2017. Photo courtesy of
  2. Longest home run at Trop and Erasmo Ramirez's pitching doom Rays (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Kevin Kiermaier returned. The problem was, so did Erasmo Ramirez.

    Seattle Mariners first baseman Yonder Alonso (10) scores on the double by Seattle Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz (23) in the first inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.
  3. 'Road to Nowhere' is back: Next phase of Suncoast Parkway coming


    Despite intense public opposition and dubious traffic projections, the Florida Department of Transportation has announced that construction of the toll road known as "Suncoast 2" is expected to start in early 2018.

    The Suncoast Parkway ends at U.S. 98 just south of Citrus County. For years residents have opposed extending the toll road, a project dubbed the "Suncoast 2" into Citrus County. But state officials recently announced that the Suncoast 2 should start construction in early 2018. [Stephen J. Coddington  |  TIMES]
  4. Jameis Winston's hardest lesson: He can't always save the day


    TAMPA — Ever wonder what in the world goes through Jameis Winston's mind when he tries to fit the ball in a keyhole as he is being dragged to the turf like he was during Thursday night's 12-8 preseason win over the Jaguars?

    Jameis Winston, left, tries to hang on to the ball as Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler tries to strip it from him.
  5. Despite pain, woman in court faces ex-boyfriend who lit her on fire



    Sheron Pasco sat in the wheelchair as her mother pushed it toward the man in the orange jail suit.

    Sheron Pasco, 39, relies on the help of her mother, Tranda Webb, 62, as she recovers from the burns covering her body.