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Arctic Air to Bring Frost, Freeze to Florida Sunday

February 17, 2013; 4:20 PM

A brief visit of cold air will chill residents and visitors in Florida through the remainder of the weekend. Freezing temperatures will extend from the northern Florida peninsula into the eastern panhandle, the rural areas between Tampa and Orlando and the western suburbs of Tampa.

As a major storm continues to take shape off the Atlantic coast through Sunday, it will to bring snow from northern South Carolina to Maine. Colder air driving southeastward from Canada on the backside of this storm will reach even farther into the South than the snow. This could be the most significant cold blast of the winter so far for the interior South.

There has not been arctic air driving this far south this winter. Arctic air masses have been stopping short of the region or passing by to the east too quickly to allow the cold air to settle in.

How will this freeze affect the Florida citrus crops?

According to Agricultural Meteorologist Dale Mohler, "The coldest spots in the citrus groves of central Florida will probably dip to between 30 and 32 degrees for an hour or two. It should not be cold enough to cause significant damage, though spotty damage to new blooms are possible. In fact, the coldest air is near ground level. The air near the blossoms will be 1 to 3 degrees higher than the air near the ground."

Mohler also points out that growers normally know where the coldest spots are and can then use frost protection methods to prevent widespread damage.

"However, a frost and freeze could be a more significant problem for more tender fruits and vegetables," Mohler said.

No damage was reported Sunday morning in the primary citrus and vegetable areas.

Sunday night and Monday morning will be the coldest of the entire weekend, however, before temperatures become more mild in the afternoon hours Monday.

Content contributed by Online Journalist Grace Muller and Expert Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski. The thumbnail picture of snow on nettles is courtesy of flickr user PermaCultured.

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