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Cold weather not going away for little while

If you were hoping this week would be the final blast of frigid weather for a while, you can forget it. Winter has no plans on making an early exit in Manatee County.

Besides, the official start of spring isn’t until March 20.

“It’s winter,” said Richard Rude, meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Ruskin. “We could get a freeze anytime probably in the next month or so.”

A freeze isn’t forecast for the coming week, but conditions are expected to be blustery.

Today’s high temperature won’t reach 60 degrees and it’ll feel a lot colder with sustained winds between 11 and 15 mph and gusts hitting 21 mph. The bright spot: mostly sunny skies.

Lows tonight will again dip into the high 30s.

“We were expecting a slightly cooler winter down here anyway and that’s the way it’s been working out,” Rude said.

The average high and low temperatures for Bradenton this time of year are low 70s and low 50s. So why are we so much colder?

Rude referenced a weather phenomenon known as Arctic Oscillation.

Right now, we’re in a “negative phase” of oscillation, with higher-than-normal pressure over the polar region and lower-than-normal pressure at mid-latitudes.

In layman’s terms, that means colder temperatures plunging deeper into the southern United States.

Sound familiar?

As for Friday, the high temperature at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport hit 59 degrees just before 8 p.m., according to the National Weather Service. Stiff winds picked up late in the day, too, with gusts topping out at 37 mph. A modest rainfall there totaled .38 of an inch Friday.

Beyond today, high temperatures are expected to hover only around 60 degrees through Thursday, with lows in the low 40s.

A high of 67 degrees is forecast for Friday.