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Winter shaping up to be one of Tampa Bay's coldest

It's beginning to feel more like Des Moines, Iowa. Even to forecasters.

As yet another cold front moves in, weather experts say January and February are shaping up to be among the coldest ever in the Tampa Bay area.

"Every time people here at the station hear me say that more cold air is coming in, I hear the groans, I hear the sighs," said Julie Marquez, meteorologist with Bay News 9. "I understand a lot of people are tired of it. Most people are ready for it to warm up and stay that way."

Don't hold your breath.

After the sixth-coldest January on record, February may wind up being even colder.

February's normal average temperature — take the high and the low and divide by two — is 62.3 degrees.

The average is now 55.5 degrees, about two degrees off the all-time average low of 53.2 degrees set in 1978, the National Weather Service says.

"Right now, February is at No. 5, and it could move up," said weather service meteorologist Rick Davis.

Already, the winter of 2010 has taken a broad toll, damaging crops, killing fish and manatees in record numbers, inflating utility bills and curtailing tourism.

The forecast for the next few days calls for another blast of cold air.

By early Friday, temperatures are expected to be in the 30s in inland areas of Tampa Bay and the 20s in Citrus, Hernando and parts of Pasco counties.

"I've lived in Florida 30 years plus, and you're talking about the top five or even top three in history," Davis said. "It definitely feels cold to the average Floridian."

The upside?

"I've been able to wear my new coat this winter," says Marquez.

Winter shaping up to be one of Tampa Bay's coldest 02/24/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 24, 2010 9:19pm]
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