Special weather statement issued for near-freezing temps in South Florida

Update 3:30 p.m.:  Near-freezing to freezing temperatures in South Florida, including Palm Beach County, have triggered a special weather statement to be issued by the National Weather Service in Miami.

Forecasters said this afternoon that wind-chill temperatures could be in the 20s in parts of South Florida overnight Wednesday and Thursday.

In Palm Beach County, frost is possible Thursday morning with temperatures in the 30s. A light wind Friday will allow temperatures to drop even further with meteorologists now warning of possible freezing temperatures, especially south of Lake Okeechobee.

Wind chill temperatures for interior Palm Beach County may drop into the mid to upper 20s on Thursday and Friday. Coastal areas are forecast to experience wind chill values in the low to mid 30s.

Previous story: A crush of arctic air is forging toward South Florida, already triggering hard freeze warnings, wind chill advisories and winter weather advisories from Jacksonville to Pensacola.

The Treasure Coast is under a gale warning this morning, meaning winds could reach 35 mph, especially over the coastal waters. By mid-week, western areas of Martin and St. Lucie counties could see up to 6 hours of freezing temperatures as low as 28 degrees.

Forecasters in Melbourne made a special post Monday noting that it did not snow in areas from Tampa to Cape Canaveral, despite social media posts. The Miami office of the NWS sent out a similar tweet after it saw people mistaking a blowing mist to snow.

Images: Remember the cold snap of 2010 when lizards fell from trees and five cold records were broken? 

“Videos of the purported snow is just mist being blown around by gusty winds,” meteorologists in Melbourne wrote.

For South Florida, wind chill temperatures in the 20s are possible for areas of Palm Beach County Wednesday and Thursday as the biting cold makes its way south.

The Lake Worth Pier closed earlier this morning citing high winds and dangerous surf.

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“While cold air has easily made its way into the northern half of the United States in December, there have not been many opportunities for cold air to reach into the Deep South,” said AccuWeather Meteorologist Evan Duffey.

West Palm Beach forecast

However, the jet stream will dive down through parts of the deep south this week, according to AccuWeather. That will allow the frigid air to flow through the Sunshine State.

Check The Palm Beach Post radar map

Palm Beach County emergency manager Bill Johnson said cold shelters will not open tonight, but may open Wednesday in the western communities.

“We monitor on a day-by-day basis and will make a decision tomorrow morning about Wednesday and Thursday,” Johnson said.

Already, National Hurricane Center expert Eric Blake was lamenting the overcast skies in Miami this morning, calling it “basically Miami armageddon.”

Forecasters are predicting just 39 to 40 degrees in West Palm Beach overnight Wednesday and Thursday. If this holds true, it will be the coldest air measured at Palm Beach International Airport since February 2015. If the temperature falls below 38, it will be the coldest since December 2010.

In Wellington, temperatures could be as low as 35 degrees overnight Thursday with Belle Glade falling to 34 degrees. 

The normal high temperature in West Palm Beach for this time of year is 75 degrees, with a low of 57.

That means temperatures in Palm Beach County will be 16 to 18 degrees below normal.

“I think there is a pretty good chance that we will dodge a freeze, but if you have some plants that are particularly vulnerable to cold, you may want to cover them,” said Bill Schall, Palm Beach County’s extension agent.

Schall said vulnerable plants include succulents and aglaonema, or Chinese evergreen.

Chinese evergreen

Also, prize orchids should be brought inside, or protected. Schall said watering landscaping the night before the cold “keeps the plumbing system of the plant working by keeping the fluid moving and making it more resistant to cold damage.”

“There are some plants that get damaged even if it doesn’t go down to freezing,” Schall said. “This last cold snap we had, I did notice some damage on the more tender hibiscus leaves.”

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