Brace for a cold Tuesday night: Wind chill forecast in 20s

If you thought Monday night was cold, the forecast calls for Tuesday night to feel even chillier.

“It was a cold night and morning across South Florida, but all indications were that the winds kept it from being much colder,” National Weather Service meteorologist Bob Ebaugh said Tuesday morning.

Tuesday night’s weather was forecast to drop into the mid-30s in Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood, with the wind chill making it feel around 20 to 25 degrees, Ebaugh said. Then there will be moderate temperatures the rest of the week until Saturday, when a weak cold front will sweep in.

Monday night’s chilliness tied or came close to tying several record lows across the region. On Monday night in West Palm Beach, the overnight low of 33 degrees matched a prior record set in 1962. At Fort Lauderdale International Airport, if the temperature drops one more degree Tuesday morning, from 35 to 34, it would tie the prior record set in 1962, Ebaugh said.

After the bone-chilling night, South Floridians did their best to stay warm Tuesday morning.

Artis Osborn, a local truck driver, rushed into a Fort Lauderdale Dunkin’ Donuts to grab a large hot coffee before heading to work. “I just hope it doesn’t get any colder,” he said, clutching his steaming cup of java. “We’re just not used to this.”

Heading out with his steaming hot beverage of choice, Arthur Wallace, a Miami Beach attorney, explained how he deals with the low temperatures. “Coffee, cashmere sweaters and black cowboy boots,” he said.

While many dread the near freezing temperatures, Jamie Greene, the general manager of the Dunkin’ Donuts on the 900 block of W State Rd. 84, said she looks forward to cold snaps, as they help give her business a boost. She expects her sales to show an increase of about 20 percent for Tuesday.

“Obviously it’s going to be a very busy day, everyone wants hot coffee, hot chocolate and tea” she said. “The line will be out the door and around the corner.”

Savvy South Floridians began grabbing space heaters off the shelves last week, when forecasters started talking about the coming freeze. Many stores had none left by Monday.

“The minute there is a cold threat, everyone runs to the store,” said Leslie Edgecombe, manager of the Lowe’s store in Oakland Park. Last Thursday, he sold 150 units in one day, and he’s run out.

Also threatened by the cold are the iguanas and Burmese pythons that have colonized South Florida.

Last winter’s extreme cold depopulated many areas of iguanas, and a similar stretch of chilly weather will further reduce their numbers, said Scott Hardin, exotic species coordinator for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

“If this winter is anything like last winter, we could see greatly reduced numbers of iguanas and Burmese pythons for some years down the road,” he said.

Farmers on Monday scrambled to protect their investment by soaking strawberries with water, creating an insulating ice crust, and raising the water in irrigation canals to help warm the fields.

In January, Florida’s record low temperatures caused vegetable prices to double or triple. But growers and food retailers agreed it is too early to tell if this week’s cold wave will raise prices.

“If we return to normal temperatures, the impact is minimal,” said Publix spokeswoman Kim Jaeger. “If we continue to experience unseasonably cold temperatures, it could create supply issues across the industry.”

Winter is the peak season for Florida produce, when the state supplies the rest of the country. Among the crops most sensitive to cold are cucumbers, tomatoes, squash, bell peppers and green beans, said Lisa Lochridge, spokeswoman for the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association.

Farmers on Monday scrambled to protect their investment by soaking strawberries with water, creating an insulating ice crust, and raising the water in irrigation canals to help warm the fields.

Of course, cold is a relative concept.

“I just got in from a business trip to New York. When we landed here, and the pilot announced it was 57 degrees, everyone cheered,” said Nicki Grossman, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau.

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