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Record cold and arctic sea smoke: Florida reacts to freezing weather

Social media lit up as Tampa Bay and the rest of the state woke up to an unusually cold morning and some rare weather phenomena.
Ice drips off small trees in a Clearwater garden Thursday morning in below freezing temperatures after sprinklers ran overnight. [JIM DAMASKE | Times]
Ice drips off small trees in a Clearwater garden Thursday morning in below freezing temperatures after sprinklers ran overnight. [JIM DAMASKE | Times]
Published Jan. 18, 2018
Updated Jan. 18, 2018

How cold was it?

In Tampa, thermometers dipped to 29 degrees overnight heading into Thursday morning, tying with the record low temperature for Jan. 18 in 1981.

It hasn’t been this cold in the city since Jan. 11, 2010, WTSP 10Weather meteorologist Grant Gilmore said. That day temperatures dipped to 25 degrees. It was also cold enough for freeze warnings across the Tampa Bay area that lasted into the morning commute.

The east coast of Central Florida was similarly cold with temperatures hitting 29 in Daytona Beach and 28 in Orlando. Miami hit 44 degrees

How cold did it feel?

WTSP broadcasted this map showing that it felt as cold as 24 degrees in St. Petersburg Thursday morning with the wind chill.

Unexpected hazards.

While black ice is a hazard much of the country is familiar with in the colder months, its a true rarity in Florida.

A section of the Veterans Expressway in Tampa was closed Thursday morning after a woman driving a BMW hit a patch of ice near Hutchinson Road and slid into a wall. The woman was okay, but crews at one point shut down both southbound lanes to remove the ice with chisels and salt (and a few of them took a tumble on video).

The Florida Highway Patrol said the ice came from a construction truck that leaked water onto the road.

Unusual weather phenomena.

Arctic sea smoke off the Florida coast? Yes, according to the Weather Channel’s Mike Seidel.

Here come the cold photos.

Tampa Bay Times photographer Jim Damaske captured these icy photos in Clearwater on Thursday morning.

Ice drips off small trees in a Clearwater garden Thursday morning 1/18/2018 in below freezing temperatures after sprinklers ran overnight.
Ice drips off small trees in a Clearwater garden Thursday morning 1/18/2018 in below freezing temperatures after sprinklers ran overnight.
Ice drips on some moss in a Clearwater garden Thursday morning 1/18/2018 in below freezing temperatures after sprinklers ran overnight.
Ice drips on some moss in a Clearwater garden Thursday morning 1/18/2018 in below freezing temperatures after sprinklers ran overnight.

Keel and Curley winery in Plant City posted these photos of its freeze protected blueberry crops. (There’s ice on the strawberries in Plant City too).

And there were many many chilling photos from elsewhere around Florida.

And all the #FloridaFreeze jokes.

Of course everyone seemed to be tweeting the #FloridaFreeze memes because we can’t handle this.