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Just like this time last year, winter is taking a trip to Florida

American flags wave as snow falls, blanketing vehicles in a car sales lot on Friday in Jackson, Miss. The forecast called for a wintry mix of precipitation across several Deep South states, including the Florida Panhandle. Fortunately, the flakes will fall far short of Manatee.
American flags wave as snow falls, blanketing vehicles in a car sales lot on Friday in Jackson, Miss. The forecast called for a wintry mix of precipitation across several Deep South states, including the Florida Panhandle. Fortunately, the flakes will fall far short of Manatee. AP

It’s finally time to break out those holiday sweaters.

Winter weather is blanketing the nation, and Florida’s panhandle even had a slight chance of snow Friday night.

Temperatures are expected drop into the low 40s in the area over the weekend, but this major cold front is eerily similar to one last year, down to the day, said Spectrum Bay News 9 meteorologist Brian McClure.

“Last year’s weather was almost exactly the same. From Dec. 1 to Dec. 6, we had weather in the high 70s and 80s,” he said. “Then, we had a cold front come through Dec. 8 and 9, the exact same day as this year.”

And if you think that’s bad, consider how miserable it must feel in Duluth, Minn. They’re dealing with “highs” in the 20s.

But in Florida, lows that dip into the low 40s are considered mighty uncomfortable.

Saturday’s high is expected to top out at 63 with a low of 41 as rain lingers in the region and cold air rushes in from the Gulf, according to Bay News 9.

The temperatures will be similar on Sunday, with a high of 60 and a low of 42 expected.

Next week will see the return of slightly warmer weather. Bay News 9 forecasts a high of 66 Monday and a low of 52, and temperatures are expected to remain in the mid-60s, with lows in the low 50s throughout net week. Friday should be in the 70s.

This kind of sudden fluctuation in temperature is common for Florida, McClure said. What isn’t common is the amount of simultaneous snow and cold weather that the rest of the nation is seeing.

“This is a large-scale pattern change,” said McClure. “It’s the strongest cold front of the season thus far. Instead of the usual cool air, it brought arctic air from Canada.”

Weather swings are common in Florida, especially during the winter season, but other regions aren’t accustomed to such sudden changes.

“It’s snowed from Mexico to southern Texas to Georgia and all the way to South Carolina. That’s what’s more rare,” said McClure. “It went from mild temperatures to 3 or 4 inches of snow on the ground.”

Manatee County hasn’t seen measurable snow since Jan. 19, 1977, McClure said, which was part of an even bigger cold front that sent snow flurries as far south as Miami. The record low for Sarasota-Bradenton for Dec. 9 was 30 in 1984, according to the National Weather Service.

Many Manatee County residents probably remember seeing light snow flurries Dec. 23, 1989, but there was no measurable accumulation from that event.

The forecast of rain and wind was enough to force the cancellation of boat parades in Sarasota and Pinellas counties. Sarasota has canceled its boat parade scheduled for Saturday. St. Pete Beach and South Pasadena decided to cancel their Friday night boat parades due to looming weather changes, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

However, as of Friday night the Manatee River Holiday Boat Parade was still set to take place at 6 p.m. Saturday. In fact, participants in the parade were still working to get their boats ready.

“Right now we’re on unless something really bad happens,” said George Gordon, general manager of the Bradenton Yacht Club.

The city of Sarasota issued a statement that said the parade organizers of the 32nd annual Holiday Boat Parade of Lights consulted with the U.S. Coast Guard and other public safety agencies before deciding to cancel the event due to a small craft advisory for Saturday.

Meanwhile, Saturday morning’s Christmas parade on Anna Maria Island was still a go as of Friday night. The procession leaves Bayfront Park in Anna Maria at 10 a.m. and culminates in Bradenton Beach.

None of the canceled boat parades will be rescheduled.

While the cold weather may seem like a downer, especially considering the events it canceled, McClure said it’s only temporary.

“A lot of people forget that our average high is still in the 70s, even in the dead of December, but I can pretty much guarantee that these swings will happen all winter long.”

Ryan Callihan: 941-745-7095, @RCCallihan

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