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Panhandle freeze possible by midweek following a strong fall front

Freezing conditions possible midweek
Meteorologist Justin Ballard
Temperatures could drop near freezing in parts of the Panhandle by midweek.

Freeze watches go into effect Tuesday for portions of the Panhandle as a strong fall cold front could result in record-cold temperatures.

The first significant cold snap of the season is set to plunge much of the eastern half of the United States below freezing this week. Surface observations early Monday afternoon depict a strong cold front moving into the Panhandle, with stout northwesterly winds behind the front dragging in an anomalously cold and dry air mass for mid-October. Ahead of the front, storms could bring damaging winds and hail to locations like Orlando and Miami through Monday evening. As the risk of strong storms tapers off Monday night across the Sunshine State, attention will turn toward the potential for a hasty end to the growing season.

Despite sunny skies, Tuesday and Wednesday, highs away from the immediate coastline in the Panhandle will only rise into the lower and middle 60s. Overnight lows in these locations are forecast to drop into the upper 20s and lower 30s for several consecutive hours. If the forecast for lows below freezing comes to fruition, it would likely mark the end of the growing season in places like DeFuniak Springs, Crestview, and Marianna. Record cold temperatures could move into areas like Tallahassee and Jacksonville by Wednesday night, with lows in these locations forecast to drop into the upper 30s and lower 40s. By Thursday, record low temperatures could be found across north-central Florida, from Jacksonville to Gainesville.

Records are not confined to low temperatures as this cold air rolls into Florida like a bowling ball. Record low high temperatures are possible by midweek from North Florida to South Florida, where Fort Myers could break a nearly 100-year-old record. For the more than 10,000 customers still without power following Hurricane Ian in southwest Florida as of this publishing, the unseasonably cold air mass could make for an uncomfortable stretch of weather.

It does not look like this early-season chill will linger long, as temperatures are forecast to inch closer to average by early next week.