MANATEE -- The temperature dropped to a record low of 27 degrees early this morning in Bradenton, according to the National Weather Service.
The low was recorded at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, breaking a previous record low of 32 on Dec. 28, 1977.
The cold was even more intense inland, according to unofficial reports received by the weather service. A resident in Duette called in a temperature of 22 degrees Tuesday morning.
Another unofficial report in Myakka City came in at 25 degrees, which would be six degrees below the record for that area, also set in 1977. The weather service had not yet received the official Myakka City report.
Jennifer McNatt, a meteorologist at the weather service in Ruskin, said the area is nearly out of its latest cold snap. High temperatures should reach the 70s by Thursday and stay there until through Tuesday.
“Tonight’s lows will still be freezing,” she said, “but it looks to be a couple degrees above this morning. After tonight, we’re looking at a pretty good warm-up with lows in the 40s.”
McNatt said a high-pressure system will move off to the northeast, allowing winds to shift to the east-southeast, warming the air.
Hugh Taylor, a citrus grower whose Taylor Cattle and Citrus farm is just south of Myakka City, said he recorded a temperature of 24 degrees between 5 and 7 a.m. Tuesday.
But the temperature was a manageable 27 degrees for most of the night, he said, and winds were calm, which helped reduce freezing.
“It got pretty cold out here, but I think we’re OK,” said Taylor, who stayed awake all night tending to the trees. “I’m sure we’ve got some ice in our fruit and probably lost some juice, but it could have been worse.”
Taylor’s orange trees received a steady sprinkler stream of 72-degree water throughout the night, he said. He said the warm water and resulting fog can increase the temperature in the grove by about three degrees.
While this week’s cold snap and another one earlier this month have been difficult, Taylor said his farm has endured worse.
“Historically speaking, we’ve seen some colder weather,” he said
Manatee County remains under a freeze warning until 9 a.m. Wednesday. Other counties covered by the freeze warning are Citrus; De Soto; Hardee; Hernando; Highlands; Hillsborough; Levy; ; Pasco; Polk; Sarasota; and Sumter.