Friday, January 14, 2011

Hot Chocolate Advisory, Frost as thick as Snow, & Black ice threat tonight!

Friday, January 14, 2011       10 p.m.

First off I want to say how great it is to be back in the saddle! I was a little under the weather. I hope you and your family are staying healthy because I know there are a lot of bugs going around out there. This weather certainly does not help matters, that is for sure. We finally warm up to the 70s and then nature puts us right back into the deep freeze. The big stat you have been hearing is it has been so cold and stormy around the country that Florida is the only state without snow cover. Yes, as of yesterday 71% of the country was covered by snow which was more than last years maximum cover in the lower 48 states of 68%. The average snow depth was an amazing 7 inches per square foot! Check out the map below from earlier this week.

Hawaii has even had a foot of snow on the upper elevations of the big island of Hawaii. Unbelievable. So is Florida the only state without snow on the ground? Well, not after today! Fort Caroline Baptist Academy got out the snow machines for the kids. There was enough snow on the ground to make snowmen and lots of snowballs for snowball fight! If it is going to be this cold in Florida we might as well have snow. After all we tied the record low in Jacksonville of 23 this morning set back in 1964. The kids had a ball out in that snow and notice they used beach shovels since you cannot buy snow shovels anywhere in What a great shot we showed you on First Coast News this evening. This snow will likely melt quickly this weekend with highs recovering back closer to normal in the lower 60s!

Not to rain on your warmer weather news, but just when you think you have seen everything this winter, think again! Tonight we will not just have frost but heavy frost. This has been known to cause slick bridges and overpasses. So if you are driving late tonight and first thing tomorrow morning especially from areas near Interstate 95 west make sure to exercise extra caution when driving. We had an ocean breeze that kicked in today giving us extra low-level moisture in the atmosphere to work with. This combined with crisp, clear, and calm conditions gives us all the ingredients necessary for a thick frost that may resemble a sugar-coating of snow.

One other thing that could compound problems will be patchy freezing fog that could form in some areas. Freezing fog forms in temperatures below freezing and can cause ice to accumulate on bridges and overpasses. This usually takes place in the far north and Canada not this far south. This ice is known as black ice because it is transparent and the average driver cannot tell it is there. So I would not use cruise control while driving on bridges and overpasses and would certainly slow it down out there. Be safe! The good news is this will be the last night for hard freezes for quite some time. The true hard freeze line where temperatures will be below 27 for two hours or more I would draw from Lake City to Waycross and westward. These are the areas you will want to protect your pipes. Otherwise remember the  other 3 P's which include pets, plants, and people! The rest of us should have more of a normal freeze except for the beaches where temperatures will be in the middle to upper 30s.

Last but not least is if it is going to be this clear and cold we need to keep our icy glass half full! Set your alarm tomorrow morning for 6:30 a.m. and get out a cup of hot chocolate and go outside. By 6:54 a.m. you will see the International Space Station pass over Jacksonville Florida from the west-southwest and it will cross the north-northeast horizon before leaving our view at 6:58 a.m. and it will be able to be seen without binoculars or a telescope. Imagine a slow-moving shooting star that you can enjoy and almost reach out and touch. You can come over to the Prangley house. We will be having an ISS party! Tomorrow here on the blog we will talk about a new weather acronym called the MJO...we all know MOJO from the Jags....but in the weather world the MJO may be just as impressive if you like warmer weather here in Florida. Check back for more! Thanks for reading and I will see you at 11 p.m. if you cannot wait until tomorrow to find out about the MJO!! Take care.

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