Tampa Bay is finally getting the cold snap we deserve
After record high temperatures all winter, it’s time to pull out those hideous sweaters.
It is time to go to Ballast Point with hoods up!
It is time to go to Ballast Point with hoods up!
Published Jan. 21|Updated Jan. 21

Did you get the alert, or rather, did the alert get you? Did you spring from bed gasping, grabbing your chest, swinging a candelabra at ghosts?

A storm hit Tampa Bay on Sunday, with parts of Pasco, Pinellas and Hillsborough counties under a tornado watch. The storm damaged buildings in Clearwater, but mercifully, no one was hurt.

Thanks to an emergency alert from the National Weather Service, those of us with cell phones in the proximity of the tornado had a few minutes to assess and hunker down. But remember, this was 6 a.m. on Sunday. A day of rest. Results were mixed.

I was in a magnificent deep sleep when our iPhones screamed and vibrated into the dark, silent room. The Pomeranian, who will bark at anything louder than a falling leaf, somehow slept through this. Certainly, he had died and the Guardians of the Faith were here to take me to Gilead. Or an asteroid was en route. I am non-violent, but I slapped my husband and demanded he explain what was going on, as if he should have a full report from his own REM cycle. It turns out I am only independent until under siege.

Takeaway one: It is reassuring to know our emergency system is in order for when the asteroids, or, um, the inevitable disasters of sea level rise and storm surge, come. A-plus alerting, Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Takeaway two: The corresponding storm boldly proclaimed the start of Tampa Bay’s cold weather, which, unlike the alert system, has not been showing up to work. December had record heat. It was so hot that now we’re having an early allergy season. It has basically been May all winter long, and I would like to speak to the manager.

Ah, but we’re here now. We’ve enjoyed a blast of cool days, and parts of Tampa Bay will be in the 30s or 40s this weekend. Yes, those lows are probably in the middle of the night, but you haven’t been able to sleep for years now. Walk outside and feel alive.

Make fun of us, friends up north. Enjoy shoveling your snow and feeling smug as your toes slowly lose feeling. But a cold snap is a big deal here. Floridians spend months gracefully accepting that we’re going to be encased in sweat like Han Solo. It’s fine, a tradeoff for our other good qualities. Except, you know, that thing we talked about.

Now! Now is the time for our sweaters to shine in terrible, unaesthetic combinations with shorts, threadbare leggings, Crocs, exposed ankles and jackets we swore fit before the pandemic!

Now is the time to boldly eat soups and stews! To make pasta bakes! To hold hot mugs and say ahhhh!

Now is the time to wear gloves at our workplaces because the AC is still set at 60 and there’s not really anyone around to ask about it!

Now is the time to get into an argument with our partners about whether to turn on the heat, because she runs hot and you run cold, and couldn’t you just get a blanket?

Having won the argument, now is the time to lug out the tiny space heaters we’ve had since college and place them near our feet, feet that are very confused! But now is also the time to remember to unplug those heaters before going to bed, for safety!

Spend your days with Hayes

Spend your days with Hayes

Subscribe to our free Stephinitely newsletter

Columnist Stephanie Hayes will share thoughts, feelings and funny business with you every Monday.

You’re all signed up!

Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.

Explore all your options

Get out there, Tampa Bay, and be shamelessly cold. Don’t think about anything else.

Related: Read more columns from Stephanie Hayes

Get Stephanie’s newsletter

For weekly bonus content and a look inside columns by Stephanie Hayes, sign up for the free Stephinitely newsletter.


This site no longer supports your current browser. Please use a modern and up-to-date browser version for the best experience.

Chrome Firefox Safari Edge