Prepare for 2 nights of extreme cold

Jacksonville's air temperature could reach teens; wind chill even colder

By Blake Mathews - Meteorologist
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla - Channel 4 has declared that Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday as Weather Authority Alert Days due to an Arctic blast of freezing air unlike anything seen in Northeast Florida in 25 years. 

All preparations should have been completed by now.

The powerful cold front is on final approach to Jacksonville and is promising to bring a taste of dangerously cold air to the region. 

For that reason, the National Weather Service has issued a hard freeze warning for the entire area, as well as a wind chill warning. It's been decades since the area was last under a wind chill warning which means feels-like numbers will be at or below zero in southeast Georgia and below 10 degrees in northeast Florida.

The forecast

The Arctic front arrived Monday morning around 10 a.m. Temperatures dropped rapidly behind the front to the mid- to low-40s by later afternoon. Don't be fooled by the warm weather to start the day. Big, historic changes are on the way.

Monday night, winds gusting to 40 mph will usher in the coldest air since the 1980s. Temperatures are expected to dive well into the teens in southeastern Georgia and interior northeast Florida, including parts of Jacksonville. Currently we show a low of 18 degrees at Jacksonville International Airport, and some of the forecast models show a few degrees colder than that.

Wind chills will be crippling, with frost bite taking place within half an hour if exposed skin is not covered.

Wind chills in southeast Georgia will flirt with 0 degrees. In Jacksonville, wind chills as low as 5 degrees are possible. At the coast, wind chills will be near 15 degrees.

We will briefly warm into the mid 30s by Tuesday afternoon before lighter winds and clear skies allow our temperatures to get equally as cold on Tuesday night heading into Wednesday morning. Overnight lows are expected to be back in the teens and low 20s.

This is a very serious situation.

What you need to do

All vegetation needs to be covered with cloth blankets in a teepee type fashion. Temperatures will be low enough that a heat source, like a light, will be needed to help protect the roots of the trees or plants you're trying to save.

If covering your plants or trees is not an option, here are some other ideas.

Wrap your plants in Christmas lights with incandescent light bulbs (C6 or C9 bulbs). The heat from the bulbs will help protect the plant. 

If you have a heated pool, crank the heat up and let it steam. This will help raise the temperature of the surrounding area. Also, if you place fans in the backyard to blow the steam onto your plants, this will help protect them too. It's an expensive idea but replacing your plants is too.

All pipes need to be wrapped. This includes exposed pipes in attics, under houses (if you're house is elevated), backflow preventers on sprinkler systems as well as well pumps and spigots on the side of the house. Any exposed pipes will be in serious jeopardy. Don't forget about pool pipes as well. Leaving a faucet to drip overnight will keep the water moving through the pipes overnight which will help keep the  pipe from bursting. Flowing water is more difficult to freeze than standing water.

All pets need shelter. Their furs are not thick enough to keep them warm in temperatures in the mid to upper teens. If bringing them inside is not an option, then your pets need to have an enclosed shelter with the opening to the house facing away from the wind. Inside their shelter, they will need hay, pillows, or thick blankets to keep their body heat next to them. 

The hard freeze will be a major shock to the system, trees and pets. Don't take this lightly. Your time for preparation is almost up.

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