Warming trend headed for Manatee County this weekend

HERALD STAFF REPORTJanuary 24, 2014 

MANATEE -- Manatee County temperatures are expected to continue to teeter-totter between brisk and pleasantly cool with highs mostly in the 60s this weekend while farmers breathe sighs of relief as chances for a freeze have evaporated.

On what was supposed to be the coldest day of the week Thursday, Manatee County still posted a high of 65 after an early-morning low of 36 at Sarasota-

Bradenton International Airport.

It hasn't gotten quite as cold as forecast over the past two days, which means no frost in the fields, despite a freeze watch advisory issued for Manatee and Sarasota counties.

And there'll be no freeze this weekend, either, with night temps bottoming out well above ag's dreaded 32-degree mark, according to the National Weather Service.

Farmers in Manatee County reported no apparent damage to crops during the second freeze scare this month, with temperatures last week also tipping into the 30s in southwest Florida's agricultural areas.

Farmers reportedly were able to irrigate their land with sprinklers for freeze protection as long as there wasn't too much wind, according to the county extension service.

Steve Stern, whose South Miami-Dade farm specializes in rare and exotic palm trees, said freezing temperatures could have "catastrophic" consequences for his trees. He said he did not come across any frost Thursday morning.

Farmers still must guard against damage that could crop up later.

"What happens is you don't see the damage until later," said Kimberly Hosang of Kimsue Foliage in Homestead.

Another cold front is moving Friday morning into southwest Florida but frost is not in the forecast. Friday will reach a high of just 57 with morning wind-chill values possibly as low as a brisk 34. A breezy northeast wind will range from 11 mph to 17 mph, with gusts as high as 24 mph.

Saturday will be mostly sunny with a high near 64 and a nighttime low around 53.

Sunday will be beautiful, partly sunny, with a high near 70. Sunday night has a 40 percent chance of showers with a low around 57.

The Miami Herald and

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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