Freeze warning issued for area
The next two nights Southwest Florida will experience temperatures in the 30s before the weather returns to normal at the end of the week.
The temperatures will be in the low 30s Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday night due to a large trough of lower pressure that is covering a large portion of the United States. Meteorologist Logan Johnson explained that the cold masses are coming from Canada and are being pulled down throughout the United States.
The temperatures are supposed to be around 34 degrees Monday night with a freeze warning in effect from 1 a.m until 9 a.m. today. Johnson said those who live closer to the water will experience a little warmer temperatures and those who live further inland and in rural areas will experience temperatures around 30 degrees.
The temperatures Tuesday will reach a high of 60 degrees before it dips back down of a low around 35 degrees — and force another a freeze watch.
Wednesday night will be a low of 36 degrees, Johnson said, adding that those who live inland will experience temperatures closer to 30 degrees.
“With the cold weather, we are stressing that people take proper caution as far as themselves and any pets,” Red Cross Communications Coordinator Colin Downey said.
Downey said everyone should stay indoors over the next few nights and should dress in layers.
“Dressing in layers is the best protection from any type of cold-related emergency,” he said.
All pets should be brought inside, he stressed, “if they are normally your outdoor pets, this is a good time to bring them inside.” For those animals that have to remain outside, they should be sheltered from the element with any kind of overhanging shelter or deflection from the winds.
A freeze warning is issued when temperatures between 27 and 32 cover a widespread area for more than three hours. A freeze watch is issued when a potential damaging freeze occurs over a widespread area for 24 to 48 hours. When a freeze period occurs, temperatures can remain below 32 for more than 8 hours.
Johnson said this type of weather normally does not occur during the early months of December.
“We normally expect to see this weather late December early January,” he said.
Thursday there will begin a gradual warming trend, he explained with over night lows reaching into the 40s. Friday and Saturday the temperatures will be a bit closer to normal temperatures at the beginning of December.
Johnson said the freezing temperatures are a big threat to sensitive plants that cannot handle temperatures in the 30s, especially for people that do not live in the city. Another threat for those who live in rural areas is the freezing of wells and outdoor plumbing.
He said those who live “in the city and near the beaches will be OK.”
The National Weather Service has also issued a fire weather watch for Tuesday and Wednesday.
Downey explained that everyone should use common sense because “with the dry air and high winds, it is very easy to start a grass fire or a wildfire.”
He said people should be more careful than usual when a fire weather watch has been issued because anything with a spark can led to a grass fire or a wildfire. It has been proven that a car exhaust that is started over grass can cause a fire along with a cigarette butt.
Everyone should also be careful when warming their homes, especially when using space heaters and candles. Space heaters should be kept away from any item that is flammable.
“It is a great time to make sure your smoke alarms have fresh batteries and are working properly,” Downey said.
Megan Spears, the Salvation Army resource management director of Lee, Hendry and Glades counties, said from Jan. 3-13 they served a total of 322 men, women and children throughout the cold snap earlier this year. She said they served more than 30 additional people every night during that period, with the height of 41 individuals staying with them for one night.
“We will be able to provide donated blankets, coats, scarves and hats to folks at the residential shelter and individuals joining us for cold nights,” Spears said regarding the next couple of nights.
The Social Service Center, 2400 Edison Ave., has 220 beds, which are nearly full of women and children. During a cold night, Spears explained that they also open the shelter facility for men as well.
The other location of 2476 Edison Ave. houses the food pantry that serves a hot dinner 365 days a year. The location also serves as an additional shelter for men. Spears explained that they have an emergency shelter wing that they open for women and children as well.
She encourages individuals to donate blankets, scarves, hats, boots, gloves and jackets to the Salvation Army, along with making a monetary donation at one of the red kettles. Some of the money that is collected through the red kettles provides the Salvation Army with the opportunity to provide their services to individuals who are in need a shelter during cold nights.