It’ll feel like the 30s in South Florida soon. (What!?) A guide for what you should do

·5 min read

From the Panhandle to the Keys, Florida will feel the freeze this weekend.

An Arctic air mass in Canada will travel across the U.S. to bring uncommonly cold weather to the state. Expect South Florida temperatures to drop into the low 40s, with the wind chill feeling like the 30s, forecasters say. And the actual temperature in some interior parts of Miami-Dade and Broward could drop to the upper 30s, levels not seen since December 2010, according to the National Weather Service.

Other parts of the state are expected to have it worse. Tallahassee could see temps as low as 26. Perfect for Olaf’s summer.

But since the human inhabitants of South Florida aren’t used to such chill, we’ve put together a survival guide. Here’s what you should know:

Bring your plants inside or cover them up

Bring in plants or cover them up when it gets cold
Bring in plants or cover them up when it gets cold

Plant parents: Bring in your precious babies if they can’t handle the frigid weather. While some plants handle colder temperatures better than others, you should bring your plants in before nighttime temperatures dip below 45 degrees, according to the University of Vermont.

If your plant has to stay outside, water it a few days before the cold to help create warmth and bring it as close to the house as possible, Texas A&M University horticulture expert Lisa Whittlesey wrote in a blog post.

Another tip: Cover the plants from the ground up with a tarp, cardboard box, large trash can or a plastic tub to help keep them warm.

“To cover plants effectively, drape things over the top of the plant all the way to the soil, then secure the drape with boards or rocks. This will essentially trap warmer air in with the plant,” she says.

Check the heater

It’s time to try this bad boy out. Does it still work? Do you need a new one? What’s that smell — oh, it’s the reverse cycle blowing out all that burned dust. Nasty.

And be careful in using portable space heaters. They can set chairs, beds and other furnishings on fire if too close.

Also, do not bring the grill inside to warm up your home or heat up the place by using the stove and oven or turn on your car in the garage. Too many bad things can happen, a lot worse than dealing with the cold: burns, fires, carbon monoxide poisoning.

A woman walks with her dog near South Pointe Park Pier as the sun rises on Miami Beach, Florida in this Dec. 26, 2020 file photo.
A woman walks with her dog near South Pointe Park Pier as the sun rises on Miami Beach, Florida in this Dec. 26, 2020 file photo.

Expect cold weather shelters to open

Just like we have hurricane shelters for when a storm is expected to hit Florida, counties have cold weather shelters that open when it gets really cold so people have a warm place to stay.

Miami-Dade, Broward and Monroe counties haven’t made any announcements yet on whether cold weather shelters will open this weekend.

Keep up with the forecast

South Florida’s forecast usually goes something like this: hot, really hot, hot and rainy, and, OMG, it’s under 60.

We don’t deal with the cold well.

Luckily we have forecasters that can tell us when our misery will end — or at least if it will rain during our brave trek in the cold to Disney World and Universal Studios.

Besides using the weather app on your phone, clicking on the weather forecast from the Miami Herald, and listening to your favorite TV meteorologist, you can check the National Weather Service website for your local forecast. The weather service also has Twitter accounts that cover different regions of the state.

For Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach, follow @NWSMiami. For the Florida Keys, its @NWSKeyWest.

What’s wind chill? Freeze outlook? A frost advisory?

Florida is no stranger to dense fog advisories or flood watches. We’re also pros at storm warnings. But sometimes it gets cold enough for forecasters to issue freeze advisories, and that’s usually uncharted territory for us.

We asked Sammy Hadi, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in South Florida, to explain some common terms people in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties may hear whenever it gets chilly during winter. Advisory definitions may differ in other parts of the state.

Wind chill advisory: This means the wind chill — how cold it feels, not what the temperature is — is 26°F to 35°F with winds of at least 5 mph for three hours or more.

Freeze outlook: A general summary that is issued three to five days before freezing temperatures arrive to give people, particularly the agricultural community, time to prepare.

Frost advisory: For this to happen, winds need to be less than 5 mph and temperatures need to be 33°F to 36°F.

Freeze watch: Minimum temperature must be at or below 32°F anywhere in the area for any period of time. This is usually issued 48 hours before conditions are expected.

Freeze warning: Temperatures must be at or below 32°F. This can be issued as early as 24 hours before it occurs.

Bring out the boots, churros and hot chocolate

Get your boots and chic winter coat ready. It’s time to show off your winter style — or throw on every shirt you own because you need layers, dammit.

Then go enjoy some hot chocolate and churros. You deserve it for dealing with Mother Nature’s mood swing.

And please, leave the chancletas at home.

Watch for falling iguanas

While people in other parts of the country have to scrape snow off their cars, Floridians wake up to scaly, frozen critters on their windshield, in the yard, by their pool.

The iguanas aren’t dead, just frozen. Kind of like us. They’ll thaw out and start moving again when it warms up.

Clearly, iguanas are our spirit animals.

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