BRADENTON -- Wind chills in the 30s or colder are expected to greet residents in Bradenton and all of the Tampa Bay region Thursday morning.
In preparation, the National Weather Service issued a wind-chill advisory from 1 a.m. to 11 a.m. Thursday as a cold front heads toward the region.
"This might be the only day out of the year so far where you'll actually need a light winter jacket and a hat and gloves if you're working outside," said NWS meteorologist Tom Dougherty.
A wind chill advisory is issued when wind chill index values are expected to drop to 35 degrees or lower. According to NWS, areas north of Tampa Bay could see wind chills of 25 degrees or lower.
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"It's not like we have snow
or anything like that, but it's going to be cold and breezy so bring your pets and plants inside," Dougherty said. "If you have heat in your house, you probably want to turn the heat on."
The inclement weather is causing a ripple effect throughout Manatee County. The city of Bradenton on Wednesday postponed the monthly Main Street Live event from Thursday night to Saturday night because of the weather.
The National Weather Service also issued a freeze watch for Friday for the area stretching from Lakeland and Tampa in the north to Fort Myers in the south.
The freeze watch, issued when there is potential for a widespread and damaging freeze within 24 to 48 hours, will be in effect from 1 a.m. to 9 a.m. Friday.
The National Weather Service forecast temperatures may remain below 32 degrees for more than two hours early Friday.
For Thursday in Bradenton, the National Weather Service said to expect a high of 53 with sunny skies and high winds. Thursday night, the temperature is expected to dip to 32.
Friday's expected high is 59 and the low Friday night is 45.
Warmer temperatures are expected this weekend, with continued sunshine and highs in the 70s and lows in the 50s and 60s.
Steven John, citrus production manager for SMR Farms, 4715 Lorraine Road, Lakewood Ranch, said he heard about the wind chill advisory.
"We're concerned because we've got some trees that are blooming," the Myakka City resident said.
If it stays windy the way it was Wednesday, John said there's nothing he and his crew can do. He said they'll just pray for the best.
"If the wind quits blowing, then we can turn on some of the microjet irrigation that will create a steam cloud that will hold the trees from getting to below-freezing temperatures," John said.
John, who has been working for SMR Farms for eight years now, said he didn't see this freezing weather last year.
"This is out of the ordinary," he said. "This is just abnormal, cold weather for this time of year."
Christine Smith, director of community relations and development for Salvation Army in Bradenton, said the shelter at 1204 14th St. W., Bradenton saw an increase in the number of people who stayed at the shelter during the last series of cold fronts late last week.
"We make a diligent effort to ensure that we are always prepared for that," she said.
According to Smith, this next cold snap might cause shelter supplies such as gloves and hats to dwindle. She said the community can help by donating jackets, gloves and hats to the shelter.
Ralph Garrison, Manatee County Farm Bureau Board member, said it's late in the season for it to be this cold.
"We're taking all the precautions we can to keep the greenhouses warm, if possible," said Garrison, who co-owns Suncoast Nursery Inc. in Bradenton with his wife, Sandy Garrison. "I hope this is going to be the last of the (cold) blasts."
Amaris Castillo, law enforcement/island reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. Follow her on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.