Winter 2018 is certainly off to a dashing start.
Snow in Tallahassee for the first time in over 25 years. Ice shutting down portions of highways. Wind chill advisories. Sub-zero freeze warnings.
And all in the Sunshine State.
So what is responsible for this abnormally chilly weather in Florida and across the country?
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Winter Storm Grayson.
And the cold mess is only getting stronger.
Grayson is expected to undergo bombogenesis, which means it comprises a rapidly intensifying area of low pressure. To be classified as a weather bomb, having undergone bombogensis or “bombing-out,” the central pressure of the system must drop at least 24 millibars within 24 hours, according to the Weather Channel.
In Grayson’s case, according to NOAA's ensemble tracks forecast, the storm’s central pressure could drop almost double – roughly 45 millibars in 24 hours – ending Thursday evening.
As it strengthens, the brutal storm is expected to hug the east coast as it travels north, bringing severely dangerous conditions to the northeastern United States.
On Wednesday morning, 0.1 inches of snow and sleet were measured at the National Weather Service office in Tallahassee, making it the first measurable amount of snow in the region since 1989.
At one point, a portion of Interstate 10 was shut down at Thomasville Road on the northern side of Tallahassee due to ice on the roadway.
When it comes to Manatee County, highs reached the mid-50s Wednesday, but the day remained breezy, with north-northwest winds between 15-17 mph, and gusts as high as 24 mph. Lows were expected to dip into the low 40s or high 30s.
Dr. Jennifer Bencie, health officer for the Florida Department of Health in Manatee County, released a severe cold weather warning Wednesday for Manatee County regarding a frigid air mass from Canada headed for Manatee and surrounding counties on Thursday and Friday.
The warning advised residents to stay indoors as much as possible and to wear multiple layers of loose-fitting clothing, as well as a hat, scarf and mittens when going outside Thursday and Friday.
“It has been eight years since we last saw temperatures this low for such a prolonged period,” Bencie said in her alert. “It’s critical that residents and visitors take necessary precautions to protect themselves from these unseasonably cold temperatures.”
A wind chill advisory will be in effect throughout the county overnight Wednesday, starting at 10 p.m. and lasting until 10 a.m. Thursday. A hard freeze warning from 1 a.m. to 9 a.m. Thursday is in effect for Citrus, Hernando and Sumter counties.
Inland Manatee County and Sarasota County are both under a freeze watch from late Thursday night through Friday morning, along with coastal Hernando, Pasco, and inland Hillsborough counties.
Advisories will likely be tweaked or added on in the coming days.
This is when things really start to get chilly.
Residents can expect to wake up to temperatures a few degrees colder than Wednesday, deeper into the low 40s, meteorologists said. Wind chill values may be as low as 36 degrees, with winds gusts reaching as high as 18 mph. The day is forecast to be sunny, though, the NWS said, helping temperatures climb back up a bit into the mid-50s.
Then, Thursday night will drop back down into the 30s overnight.
Friday will be similar, meteorologists said, with highs near the mid-50s, and lows hovering around the mid-30s.
Thankfully, the day is expected to have a weaker breeze.
Manatee County health officials released a warning to advise residents to stay indoors and wear multiple layers of loose-fitting clothing, including a hat, scarfs and gloves when going outside the next couple of days. Other tips include how to heat your home safely and how to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
For those seeking shelter, the Salvation Army of Manatee County is opening its overnight shelter, at 1204 14th St W in Bradenton, from 6-8 p.m. every night, but people are encouraged to arrive early.
The shelter has a capacity of 150 and has had to turn people away this week when it exceeding that.