Temperatures barely above freezing kept Okaloosa County residents from having to break out their ice scrapers Friday morning, but warmer weather will not return for some time.
A hard freeze is possible this weekend, with Saturday and Sunday nights being some of the coldest this winter for most of Okaloosa County, said Don Shepherd, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Mobile, Alabama.
Friday’s temperatures remained in the mid-30s as bouts of rain moved through the area, making for “cold rain,” but not cold enough to freeze, Shepherd said.
No ice was noted on main travel roads. Even shallow standing puddles had no evidence of glaze, Okaloosa County Public Safety Director Patrick Maddox said in an email.
Shepherd said most of the ice accumulated west of Okaloosa County in Mobile, where residents reported light amounts of ice on cars, signs and patio furniture.
Those driving west were asked to use caution, but Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Michele Nicholson said no weather-related crashes were reported Friday morning.
The county’s Public Safety Department monitors weather periodically throughout the day for any potential winter weather that could impact residents, county Communications Coordinator Nick Tomecek said in an email.
"If there is an expectation of freezing temperatures mixed with wet weather, our Public Works Department coordinates with FDOT (Florida Department of Transportation) on road conditions and assesses if any action needs to be taken," he said.
The threat of freezing rain dissipated as temperatures continued to rise into the high 30s Friday afternoon. The area is not expected to see rain again until Tuesday.
“The weekend looks dry, but your temperatures, especially your nighttime temperatures, are going to be quite cold,” Shepherd said. “Saturday and Sunday night will be in the 20s for the most part over most of the county.”
The daytime highs are expected to be in the low to mid-50s over the weekend, and it won’t be warming up anytime soon. Shepherd said temperatures could reach the upper 50s Monday and Tuesday, but another cold front will move in mid-week.
“Kind of a roller coaster on the temperatures, but still overall cold, especially at night. And cool during the day, with the next rain chances coming during the Monday night to Tuesday time frame,” he said.
Cold weather protocols are being implemented at several county and city parks and facilities.
Okaloosa parks will remain open, but park bathrooms and water in central and northern areas of the county were to be turned off Friday evening. The water will be turned back on when temperatures rise above freezing. Bathrooms and water at county parks on Okaloosa Island will remain open.
The city of Destin announced in an email Thursday night that all city park restrooms will be closed over the weekend and irrigation systems at city facilities will be shut down to prevent icing and system damage.
The National Weather Service also recommends that residents take precautions to ensure pipes do not freeze and ensure animals are not overly exposed to the cold.
Having items such as blankets, water, flashlights and jumper cables in cars also can be handy during winter weather or cold temperatures. For more cold weather tips, visit www.weather.gov/safety/cold-before.
One Hopeful Place and the Crestview Area Shelter for the Homeless provide temporary shelter for people who need it when the temperature drops below 40 degrees. The recent string of severely cold nights has brought in a number of people seeking shelter.
On Thursday, One Hopeful Place brought in 25 men and 7 women, the most staff could remember. More volunteers and supplies such as blankets, pillows and cleaning supplies are needed at each facility to help provide services.
More information on the cold weather shelters is listed below.
Crestview Area Shelter for the Homeless at 120 Duggan Ave. will open at 6 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. The shelter can be reached by calling 850-398-5670 or online at https://crestviewshelter.org.
One Hopeful Place at 1564 Percy L Coleman Road in Fort Walton Beach will open at 4 p.m. Friday night. The shelter can be reached by calling 850-586-7879 or online at https://onehopefulplace.org. Shuttle service to the shelter will provided at 205 Shell Ave. at 3:15 and 4 p.m.
Pickup location is 205 Shell Ave, starting shuttle service at 3:15 p.m. and 4 p.m.
This article originally appeared on Northwest Florida Daily News: Okaloosa County weather: Temperatures in 20s expected overnight