Despite almost full sunshine during the day on Tuesday, temperatures stayed well below average across west-central Florida. After morning lows ranging from 43 degrees at MacDill Air Force Base (AFB) to 47 degrees in St. Petersburg, highs were limited to between 57 (St. Petersburg) and 61 degrees (Downtown Tampa).
With the cold air mass in place, clear skies, and diminishing winds, the conditions are right for a freeze to occur across the northern half of west-central Florida. For this reason, the local National Weather Service (NWS) office has issued a Freeze Warning from 1 a.m. to 9 a.m. Wednesday for counties north of Tampa Bay, the lone exception being coastal portions of Pasco County. In locations under the Freeze Warning, temperatures are forecast to drop to between 27 to 31 degrees, and may remain below freezing for up to five hours.
Patchy frost possible over inland areas south of Freeze Warning
Although the NWS has refrained from issuing a Frost Advisory for communities located in Hillsborough County and southward, many areas just a few miles inland from the coast will see patchy frost as lows drop into the middle and upper 30s. The only locations looking certain to remain frost free are St. Petersburg and southern coastal areas of Pinellas County, where lows will drop into the lower and middle 40s in St. Petersburg and southern coastal areas of Pinellas County.
By Wednesday afternoon, a brief warming trend begins, as temperatures will rebound into the lower and middle 60s under mostly sunny skies – five to ten degrees above high temperatures recorded on Tuesday. Wednesday night will not be as cold, as lows will bottom out in the middle and upper 40s (and lower 50s in St. Petersburg). By Thursday afternoon temperatures will rebound to between 68 and 75 degrees, right at or slightly above normal. Expect partly cloudy skies on Thursday.
West-central Florida should avoid getting used to the milder weather on Thursday (and Friday) as another strong cold front will sweep through the area Friday evening. Morning lows on Friday will range from 55 to 62 degrees, with afternoon highs topping out between 70 and 75 degrees. However, thunderstorms and potentially another severe weather threat will accompany the warmer temperatures. Currently, precipitation coverage is forecast to average around 80 percent on Friday. Behind the front, temperatures turn colder-than-normal again for the weekend.
For further forecast details relating to the freeze over northern portions of west-central Florida, please visit the local National Weather Service website, the Storm Team 8 Facebook page, and Meteorologist Denis Phillips Facebook page.