Winter storm warning issued for northern Florida

- Florida has seen its share of weather warnings over the last year – hurricanes, tornados, floods, and more.  But now, parts of the Sunshine State are under a rare winter storm warning. 

The National Weather Service’s Tallahassee bureau issued the advisory this afternoon, warning that snow and ice – including the ever-popular “wintry mix” – are possible across southern Georgia and even parts of northern Florida overnight.

“Cold temperatures will remain as a low develops off the Atlantic Coast of Florida,” the NWS forecast said.  “With below-freezing temperatures at the surface and a layer above freezing aloft, a wintry mix of precipitation is expected. Freezing rain, sleet, and/or snow will develop after midnight tonight through Wednesday morning.”

Forecasters expect snow accumulations from 1 to 1½ inches in south-central Georgia.  Florida’s Big Bend region, from Tallahassee to Perry to Lake City, could get anywhere from a half-inch to an inch of the white stuff by midday Wednesday.

In case any Floridians aren’t familiar with the details of a winter storm warning, the National Weather Service stated what would be obvious to any Yankee.

“A winter storm warning means significant amounts of snow, sleet and ice are expected. This will make travel very hazardous or impossible,” the alert warned.  “Plan on difficult travel conditions, including during the morning commute on Wednesday.”

The winter weather forecast has prompted Alachua County Public Schools to cancel classes for Wednesday and Thursday, with classes resuming on Friday. 

Further south, no snow is expected in Central Florida, but temperatures are expected to remain well below normal, dipping below freezing in some areas as the week progresses. 

As temperatures drop to 46 degrees on Tuesday night and 32 degrees Wednesday night in Orlando, there's a rush to find ways to stay warm.  The search is on at the Millenia Home Depot.

"We're looking for a heater," says customer Mary Brewer.

It's the "hottest" selling item today.

Darius Payman adds, "Looking for an electric heater, went to a few places, and they're sold out everywhere, so it's hard to find. I feel bad for the people who really need it at home."

"We've been selling a lot of heaters, space heaters. Also we've been selling a lot of blankets for our plants," explains Asst. Store Manager Remy Arce.   

Workers were bringing plants inside for protection, while others will have blankets.

"When the temperature drops under 45 degrees, that's when we start covering our plants," Arce says.

And don't forget to cover your furry friends. Alyssa Chandler of Orange County Animal Services says, "Anytime pets are outside in the cold they can get very cold just like humans, they don't like being outside so just bring those pets indoors where they'll be nice and warm."

Managers at Home Depot say they plan to restock their large space heaters by this weekend. There are still smaller ones available for sale.

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