Florida’s version of winter comes early

Dressed warmly for the chilly weather, Tom and Bonnie Heller and Zoey, of the Village of Polo Ridge, walk past Laurel Manor Recreation Center as part of their morning walk.

Cindy Barnes doesn’t like cold weather, which is why she chose to live in Florida. But the Village of Antrim Dells resident already has had to break out her sweatshirt and turtleneck this year in the Sunshine State. Friends in the North may have been enduring a hard freeze Wednesday, but Villagers were treated to a taste of early winter, too, as temperatures hovered in the mid-60s. The cold is attributed to an arctic blast from the North Pole. Climes such as New England were affected with snow and frigid temperatures, said WVLG 102.7 FM & 640 AM senior forecaster Dave Towle. There will be a break from the cold today, with temperatures in the mid-70s, but Villagers will face another cold front Friday evening along with possible showers and thunderstorms.

Towle said cold fronts are normal for the area, but the timing of Wednesday’s blast isn’t.

“Usually the arctic cold fronts we go through tend to come after the first of the year,” he said.

What wind chill?

The subtropical climate in Central Florida usually a draw for those looking to escape the cold in the north. But there’s another factor at play: wind chill.

In addition to below-freezing temperatures, cities such as Chicago, Philadelphia and New York are set to be hit with wind chills. On Friday, Chicago will see a high of 38 degrees Fahrenheit, but the wind chill will make it feel even colder, according to AccuWeather.

The colder the air, the faster the wind and the cooler the wind chill, Towle said. But the wind chill isn’t as affecting in warmer climates like Central Florida.

At 7 a.m. Wednesday morning, it was 54 degrees with wind blowing at 10 mph, dropping the “feels like” temperature to 51 degrees.

Acclimated to the heat

Because many Villagers have gotten used to the warmer temperatures in Florida, cold weather is more difficult to tolerate, Towle said.

“This is a good time to throw a sweater in the car and keep it there, especially the folks who go for morning walks or take their four-legged friends out,” he said.

John Stevens sat in the sun chatting with his friend Wednesday morning at Spanish Springs Town Square. It was breezy out, and the temperature was in the mid-50s.

The Village of Orange Blossom Gardens resident who hails from Saratoga, New York, was wearing a zip-up jacket to stay warm. He couldn’t help but draw a comparison between The Villages and his home state. 

“Compared to up there, it’s good,” he said. “It’s snowing up there.”

Another group of four was taking a stroll in their coats in Spanish Springs.

John Richardson, one of the walkers and a Village of Bonita resident, said he prefers warmer weather, but “it’s all relative.”

At home in Silver Spring, Maryland, it was 24 degrees Wednesday morning.

“So this is a hot day,” he said.

Another cold front will hit the area Monday and Tuesday due to a high-pressure area in Canada. But it won’t be anything like what those in New England will experience, Towle said. Up there, they’ll see mixed rain and snow.

“They can get their snow shovels out, and we can laugh at them,” he said.

Staff writer Julie Butterfield can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5254, or julie.butterfield@thevillagesmedia.com.