For a few days, South Florida will get a mini-spoon taste of what the rest of the United States considers winter (or late autumn) weather.
That means temperatures in the 40s or maybe even the high 30s. So, it won’t literally be “freezing” (that’s still 32 degrees and below), but it will be enough of a weather change to affect people and plants. South Miami-Dade’s agricultural areas might find themselves dealing with frost by Friday morning, said Chris Fisher, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
“It’s certainly going to be a bit of a shock to people down here because they haven’t had to experience it in a couple of years,” Fisher said. “It’s going to be cold by anyone’s standards. People are going to want to layer up.”
“Layer up” means put, say, an undershirt under your shirt. Or under a sweater. And a jacket on over that. Long pants. Maybe even — we know this burdens some of you like relatives and we don’t like to say it — socks. We know, we know. These are hard times for us all.
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In your car, after you start it, wait a few minutes. Then find the controls you use in July and August to cool the inside of the car down. Move them in the opposite direction. Warm air will eventually blow out of the vents.
Other advice on getting through the next few days:
In Miami-Dade, the Homeless Trust went into Cold Weather Mode at 10 a.m. Wednesday and will remain there until 10 a.m. Saturday. Five shelters will have extra beds through this period: Chapman Partnership North, 1550 N. Miami Ave. (30 extra beds for men, 20 extra beds for women), Chapman Partnership South, 28205 SW 124th Ct. (20 extra beds for men, 10 extra beds for women), Camillus House Norwegian Cruise Line Campus, 1605 NW Seventh Ave. (15 extra mats for men), Miami Rescue Mission, 2020 NW First Ave. (15 extra beds for men), and the Salvation Army, 1907 NW 38th St. (20 extra beds for men, 10 for women).
Broward County declared a Cold Weather Emergency ahead of the cold snap expected to hit South Florida beginning Wednesday night. Homeless people are asked to get to a pickup or shelter location by 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday night. Pickup locations are the Salvation Army, 1445 W. Broward Blvd. in Fort Lauderdale, and the Pompano Beach City Hall, 100 W. Atlantic Blvd. The shelters are that Salvation Army; Broward Outreach Center, 2056 Scott St. in Hollywood; the Central Homeless Assistance Center, 920 NW Seventh Ave. in Fort Lauderdale; and the North Homeless Assistance Center, 1700 Blount Rd. in Pompano Beach.
Broward’s Homeless Initiative Partnership Administrator Michael Wright said the county is expecting an additional 300 people in its four shelters each of the three nights.
First, let’s talk space heaters. There should be at least 3 feet in front of any of these things. Use them to heat up a space. The last person to bed turns off all the space heaters in the house.
Now, about those makeshift heaters involving charcoal ... don’t. Just don’t, for the same reason the fire departments remind you not to grill indoors when you lose power after a hurricane — carbon monoxide poisoning. Two children and an adult from Lauderhill were taken to the hospital in December with possible carbon monoxide poisoning after burning charcoal in their apartment. A makeshift charcoal grill sent seven kids and three adults to the hospital from a Lauderdale Lakes apartment building in October.
The American Veterinary Medical Association website says, “Cats and dogs should be kept inside during cold weather. It’s a common belief that dogs and cats are [more] resistant than people to cold weather because of their fur, but it’s untrue.” Also, “If your dog has a short coat or seems bothered by the cold weather, consider a sweater or dog coat. Have several on hand, so you can use a dry sweater or coat each time your dog goes outside.”
The AVMA also advises shortening your dog’s walks (although, true cold weather evidence suggests that dogs tend to have enough sense to do their business quickly in the cold).
Preparation is the key to saving crops, said Herb Grafe, part owner of Homestead’s popular Knaus Berry Farm. When forecasters begin to predict weather below the 40s, Grafe said they begin getting the fields ready to pump water onto the squash, lettuce, tomatoes and other crops. The water helps prevent the crops from freezing.
“Weather is a strange thing; it will sneak up you,” he said.
As for house plants, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden says that temperatures below 45 degrees can impact tropical plants, including aroids, orchids and even some trees. Some tips to preserve tropical plants, according to the Garden: Move orchids inside or to a covered area; water plants a day before the cold weather is expected; and cover sensitive plants with a sheet or other fabric.
Most other plants can withstand temperatures above 32 degrees.