Temperatures were expected to hit the coldest of the season late tonight and into early Wednesday morning as cold fronts moved through the state.
The Florida Division of Emergency Management urged everyone to prepare for temperatures near or below the freezing mark. A cold front experienced in north Florida on Sunday was continuing through the state, officials said.
A secondary cold front was expected to push through today.
"A very strong arctic air mass will arrive behind these fronts and last through mid-week," officials reported in a prepared statement.
Tom Dougherty, a meteorologist for the Tampa Bay Office of the National Weather Service, reported today that a freeze warning was in effect for Cape Coral and all of Lee County from midnight until 9 a.m. Wednesday.
"Very cold air is going to come down," he said.
Fire prevention tips
Heating sources like space heaters, fireplaces and wood and coal stoves can pose a fire hazard. They are the leading cause of winter fires, which increase during the months of December, January and February. To reduce the risk of heating related fires:
- All heaters need space. Keep all things that can burn - paper, matches, bedding, furniture, clothing, carpets and rugs - at least 3 feet away from equipment.
- Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended. Use a glass or metal fire screen to keep fire and embers in the fireplace.
- Never use a cooking range or oven to heat a home.
- Turn off portable space heaters when you leave a room or go to sleep.
- Have wood and coal stoves, fireplaces and chimneys inspected annually by a professional and cleaned, if necessary.
- If you must just a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface, like a ceramic tile floor, not on rugs or carpets or near curtains or bedding. Plug power cords directly into outlets and never into an extension cord.
Source: American Red Cross
"The coldest air of this season," Dougherty added.
Temperatures tonight and on into Wednesday morning were expected to be in the mid 30s along the coast and upper 20s inland.
"Cape Coral, some of that area may see freezing temperatures," he said.
Like today, Wednesday night is expected to be clear, but not as cold. Temperatures are expected to be about 45 degrees into Thursday morning.
"It just going to be cold and freezing in the morning," he said of Wednesday. "It'll stay cold a few days, then weather as normal."
Dougherty noted that freezes can occur several times a year.
When temperatures drop to near freezing temperatures, residents and visitors are reminded to remember the "Five P's" of cold weather safety.
- Protecting People
- Protecting Plants
- Protecting Pets
- Protesting Exposed Pipes
- Practicing Fire Safety
"Cover up and bring plants indoors. If you have a nice tree, cover it up with bed sheets or plastic," Dougherty said. "Bring your pets inside."
According to the Florida Division of Emergency Management, a freeze warning means sub-freezing temperatures are imminent or highly likely for at least two hours. The conditions can kill crops and sensitive vegetation.
A hard freeze warning means sub-freezing temperatures are imminent or highly likely and will kill crops and sensitive vegetation, the statement said.
Emergency officials recommended the following during cold weather:
- Stay indoors and use safe heating sources.
- Be aware of the fire danger from space heaters and candles; keep such devices away from all flammable materials, such as curtains and furniture; and install recommended smoke detectors.
- Stay dry outdoors and in wind-protected areas.
- Do not use charcoal or other fuel-burning devices, such as grills, that produce carbon monoxide. Install at least one carbon monoxide detector per floor in a home.
- Wear multiple layers of loose-fitting warm clothing.
- Drink non-alcoholic fluids.
- Shelter or bring animals inside, especially pets.
For more information, visit online: www.FloridaDisaster.org.