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Cold weather over weekend greets new year

MANATEE — Don’t be fooled by today’s mild weather, several nights of extra-cold temperatures are in store.

Because of a blast of cold air from Canada, the area will experience at least a week of near-freezing overnight temperatures.

And daytime temperatures won’t be much higher.

Eric Oglesby, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service station in Ruskin, said a cold front from the Great White North was expected to come through the area early this morning and will hang around through next weekend.

“There’s this strong Canadian air mass (bring in the cold weather),” Oglesby said. “It looks like it’s going to here all the way through the week.”

The high today will be about 68 degrees. It will be mostly cloudy and there’s a 50 percent chance of showers.

The high-pressure system from Canada also will be sending chilly winds of 7-17 mph from the north-northwest.

Overnight will be around 44, with sunny skies Saturday and a high near 59, but the winds will be picking up at between 10-16 mph.

Here’s where we start to get really cold.

Temperatures overnight Saturday to Sunday will be near or below freezing in some areas of eastern Manatee County, Oglesby said.

Along the coast, it will be in the mid-to upper 30s, maybe even 40.

These chilly nights can be very stressful to the homeless population, so the Salvation Army will be ready to take anyone in.

David Denhart, business agent for the Salvation Army, said the church will make sure the space in the shelter will be utilized to its maximum.

“We will have a place for anyone who comes,” Denhart said Thursday.

The shelter at 1204 14th St. W. normally can accommodate 102 people, but on cold nights 55 mats can be placed on empty floor space to make room for more. “We’re really prepared,” Denhart said. “We have excellent staff and generous supporters.”

With temperatures dropping to near freezing for the next several days, people should take care to bring pets indoors and cover or bring inside tropical plants.

The Florida Division of Emergency Management issued some suggestions for North Floridians, who will be experiencing even colder weather than us.

Although it’s not going to be as cold, you may want to remember the “Five P’s” of cold weather safety: Protecting People, Protecting Plants, Protecting Pets, Protecting Exposed Pipes, and Practicing Fire Safety.

The following are important safety measures:

n Stay indoors and use safe heating sources.

n Be aware of the fire danger from space heaters and candles, keep such devices away from all flammable materials, and install recommended smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

n Indoors: 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 your home.

n Outdoors: Stay dry and in wind-protected areas.

n Wear multiple layers of loose-fitting, warm clothing.

n Drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids.