It’s been nearly three years since South Florida has awakened to the kind of piercing cold that awaits us this week, with temperatures falling to the 40s and even into the upper 30s.
Forecasters say that spell will be broken by Friday morning.
“We are expecting some really cold temperatures and wind chills,” Andrew Hagen, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Miami said Wednesday night.
How cold? By Thursday morning, temperatures will drop to the low to mid 40s. The high will barely reach 60. By Friday morning, temperatures in inland areas could drop into the 30s, with coastal areas seeing low 40s. The wind chill — yes, we’re talking wind chill in South Florida — will make it feel even colder.
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It will start warming up gradually by Saturday.
All this cold weather has South Florida in a frenzy over preparing for the cold. Homeless shelters are adding beds. Airports are filling up with stuck travelers whose flights have been canceled because of far worse weather to our north. Farmers, near the peak of the winter growing season, are prepping water pumps to spray over crops. Orchid lovers are bringing in their prized plants, and pet owners are being warned of the dangers of leaving an animal outside.
“If you go outside, be smart and bundle up,” said Hagen. “It’s a chance to wear that cold-weather outfit in the back of your closet.”
Miami-Dade and Broward counties are adding beds to shelters to accommodate the homeless.
In Miami-Dade, 140 beds will be added to five shelters across the county:
▪ Chapman Partnership North, 1550 N. Miami Ave., has 30 extra beds for men and 20 extra beds for women.
▪ Chapman Partnership South, 28205 SW 124th Ct., has 20 extra beds for men and 10 extra beds for women.
▪ Camillus House Norwegian Cruise Line Campus, 1605 NW Seventh Ave., has 15 extra mats for men.
▪ Miami Rescue Mission, 2020 NW First Ave., has 15 extra beds for men.
▪ Salvation Army, 1907 NW 38th St., has 20 extra beds for men and 10 for women.
Michael Wright, Broward’s Homeless Initiative Partnership Administrator, said the county is expecting an additional 300 people in its four shelters per night.
“We are encouraging people to get out of the cold and into the shelters,” Wright said.
The Broward shelters are:
▪ Salvation Army, 1445 W. Broward Blvd. in Fort Lauderdale.
▪ Broward Outreach Center, 2056 Scott St. in Hollywood.
▪ The Central Homeless Assistance Center, 920 NW Seventh Ave. in Fort Lauderdale.
▪ The North Homeless Assistance Center, 1700 Blount Road in Pompano Beach.
People can be picked up at the Salvation Army on Broward Boulevard and the Pompano Beach City Hall, 100 W. Atlantic Blvd.
At local airports, the winter storm up north has already triggered delays and cancellations. At Miami International Airport, eight arrivals and 14 departures were canceled as of Wednesday evening, primarily from Boston, New York and South Carolina.
At Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, there were 18 canceled flights on Wednesday and nearly 180 delays of more than four hours.
Both airports encourage travelers to check on flights before going to the airport. More cancellations and delays are expected in the coming days.
Meanwhile, in south Miami-Dade, the heart of the region’s agricultural sector, growers are preparing their water pumps to spray over their crops — which include strawberries, squash, tomatoes, lettuces, beans and cucumbers.
Herb Grafe, part owner of Homestead’s popular Knaus Berry Farm, said while you don’t want to over-water, the water serves as a protective barrier to insulate the plants. And wet soil absorbs more heat. Grafe’s biggest concern is his Bibb lettuce, which is very delicate.
“For some reason, that’s always the first to freeze,’’ he said.
Miami Herald staff writer David J. Neal contributed to this report.