Freeze watches are in effect for much of Tampa Bay ahead of a blast of cold air set to makes its way down to the region this weekend.
The National Weather Service’s Tampa Bay Office has issued a hard freeze watch for parts of Levy County to parts of Pasco County from late Friday into Saturday morning. A freeze watch is also in effect for parts of Pasco County down to Manatee County for the same time period.
The agency said temperatures could drop to as low as 25 degrees in the areas in a hard freeze watch. For areas in a freeze watch, temperatures could fall to 31 degrees.
Pinellas County is currently not in a freeze watch.
Across Tampa Bay, temperatures will plummet Saturday when lows drop into the 20s and 30s. Christmas Day will likely be one of the coldest Christmases on record for the area, with lows in the 20s and 30s and highs in the in the 40s. Some areas may reach into the 50s.
The cooler temperatures will continue into Monday.
Ahead of the intense cool down, there could be a few showers and thunderstorms in the afternoon and evening Thursday, according to a forecast from Bay News 9 Meteorologist Kyle Hanson. Rainfall totals will vary across the area, from less than a quarter inch to about an inch.
“A rogue strong or severe thunderstorm that brings strong wind gusts cannot be ruled out,” Hanson said.
Frost and freeze conditions can kill crops and other sensitive vegetation and damage unprotected outdoor plumbing, the National Weather Service said.
The agency suggests taking steps now to protect plants from the cold. To prevent outdoor pipes from bursting, wrap up pipes and drain them. Those that have in-ground sprinklers should drain them and cover any above-ground pipes.
A full list of advisories
Hard freeze watch: Sumter, coastal Levy, coastal Citrus, coastal Hernando, inland Levy, inland Citrus, inland Hernando and inland Pasco counties.
Freeze watches: Polk, Hardee, Highlands, coastal Pasco, coastal Hillsborough, inland Hillsborough and inland Manatee counties.