While the rest of the nation ices up for the next 10 days or so, with temps in the teens across the Great Plains and the East Coast, a cold front moved Tuesday into southwest Florida, which will drop temperatures into the 30s by Thursday morning.
The freeze watch in effect for Manatee and Sarasota counties will expire by mid-Thursday morning even as an arctic mass pushes temps even lower in the rest of the nation.
Manatee County temps peaked at 54 degrees Wednesday, well below the 70-degree norm for this time of year.
Sliding temperatures had Manatee and Sarasota County emergency management officials reminding residents to be prepared and use caution as the mercury dropped rapidly Wednesday night. The National Weather Service issued a freeze watch beginning at 11 p.m. until 9 a.m. Thursday.
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Local shelters include: Salvation Army, 1400 10th St., Sarasota; and Salvation Army, 1204 14th St. W., Bradenton.
Looking ahead, the National Weather Service expects areas of frost before 8 a.m. Thursday but otherwise it will be sunny with a high near 60. Thursday night will be partly cloudy with a low around 41 and gusts as high as 24 mph.
The weekend looks a bit warmer with Friday mostly sunny with a high near 56 although wind chills will be as low as 32 degrees in the morning. Gusts as high as 26 mph mean a low around 38 at night.
Saturday will be mostly sunny with a high near 64 with westerly breezes of 6 mph to 11-mph gusts. Saturday night low around 53.
Sunday features a 20 percent chance of showers, partly sunny, with a high near 69. Sunday night: a 40 percent chance of showers with a low around 56.