TAMPA – Temperatures dropped into the 20s across most of West Central Florida again this morning with the Arctic air hunkered on top of us sending the thermometer to freezing hours before midnight.
Many locations spent nearly 12 hours below freezing.
The National Weather Service issued a hard freeze warning as far south as Sebring and even put up a freeze warning for Pinellas County.
Temperatures at airports in Pinellas County stayed just above freezing at 34 and 35 degrees.
Readings from the Plant City airport and agricultural weather stations in eastern Hillsborough showed nighttime temperatures falling to below freezing in the strawberry growing regions with the airport in Plant City falling to 30 degrees just before midnight and staying there past dawn.
The agricultural station in Balm registered a low of 26 and one in Dover recorded 28 degrees. A station north of Brooksville had a low of 23.
The lowest temperature at Tampa International Airport was 28 degrees around midnight, though the temperature fell below freezing about 8 p.m. Saturday. The reading at MacDill Air Force Base hit freezing about 9 p.m. and the airport in Lakeland hit the freezing mark about 7 p.m.
The airport in Hernando County hit a low of 17.
By 7 a.m., the airports were still below freezing.
Tampa Electric Co. and Progress Energy Florida reported numerous scattered power failures, mostly affecting a handful of customers, though more than 250 TECO customers in Bloomingdale and more than 330 in Town N’ Country were without power late this morning.
The chill on Saturday set records for the lowest afternoon high temperatures in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota.
The lengthy stretch of cold weather going back to the first of the year has already broke the record in Tampa and tied the record in St. Petersburg for consecutive days when the afternoon high didn’t reach 60.
It has not broken 60 degrees in Tampa or St. Petersburg since the new year started.
The run of eight consecutive days in Tampa broke the old mark of seven days set in January of 1956. In St. Petersburg, the run of sub-60 degree afternoons on Saturday tied the record in December of 1995.
It is unlikely today will reach 60 in either location.
The grip of the 2010 freeze on Saturday stretched nearly the length of the state with freezing temperatures extending as far south as West Palm Beach that hit 32 degrees overnight.
The airport in Daytona Beach registered 28 and Orlando hit 29. Jacksonville fell to 22.
Temperatures fell to 35 in Miami tying a record set in 1970 and 34 in Fort Lauderdale.
Remote sensing stations in South Florida measured a number of locations that hit freezing, including North Miami Beach, making it the coldest morning there since 1989, the weather service said.
Counties south of Lake Okeechobee are currently under a freeze watch that forecasters say will likely become a freeze warning.
Residents in West Central Florida today should finally shake the slate-colored sky that has blanketed the state since Friday as the sun should emerge.
But it won’t do much. The high today is expected to be only 50 degrees. That may actually feel warm compared to Saturday when most places reached their high temperature six hours before dawn.
The warmest temperature in Tampa on Saturday was at 1 a.m. when the day peaked at 46 degrees and kept falling. Hernando County was above 40 degrees only briefly about 1 a.m. Saturday, then stayed in the 30s until plunging below freezing about 5 p.m.
There was not enough moisture left in the air to kick off a repeat of Saturday’s scattering of sleet and snow.
A mix of cold air and Gulf moisture produced sleet, freezing rain and something not seen around Tampa in more than 30 years — snow.
Across inland sections of Citrus, Hernando, Pasco and Polk counties, people reported a dusting of snow. It settled onto lanai screens in Dade City and danced in the streetlights of Lakeland.
Sleet fell off and on through the middle of the morning.
Despite the reports of sleet, most places saw only light, though cold, rain, said Todd Barron, meteorologist at the Ruskin weather office.
The Arctic air that shouldered its way south along the Florida peninsula sprinkled parts of West Central Florida with its first sleet or snow flurries in four years and one day.
The weather had no effect on traffic at Tampa International Airport, where spokeswoman Brenda Geoghagan reported all flights left on time Saturday morning.