Chilly

Arlene Boyd bundles up as she watches her daughter, Kasey Boyd, play soccer for Palm Beach Central High against Park Vista High in the district semi finals held at Spanish River High School in Boca Raton. (Jim Rassol, Sun Sentinel / January 15, 2014)

So you wanted winter weather?

Then get ready to wake up to "feels-like" temperatures in the upper 30s and low 40s as arctic air gushes over the region. Highs Thursday were predicted to be in the upper 50s and low 60s – or about 15 degrees colder than normal – even with the sun burning bright.

By early Friday morning, far western areas might even see frost. A freeze watch, already posted for the Lake Okeechobee region, might be extended to western Palm Beach County. And both Broward and Palm Beach counties are opening their homeless shelters.

"It looks like this pattern persists through the weekend and maybe through next week as well," said meteorologist Robert Molleda, of the National Weather Service in Miami. "This means cooler than normal for a week or more."


Pictures: Floatopia Miami 2014

Thank – or blame – this extended period of chilly weather on a combination of high pressure over the western United States and a plunging jet stream, directing the arctic air deep to the south.

Even the polar vortex, a circulation pattern that originates over the North Pole, is playing a role, as the high pressure is shifting its freezing cold air farther to the south, Molleda said.

If it's any consolation, South Florida remains one of the warmest spots in the nation, with only Palm Springs, Calif., (54 degrees); Los Angeles, (59); and Honolulu, (65), expected to be warmer.

Further, we're unlikely to break cold records. The record lows for Jan. 16th are 34 degrees in West Palm Beach and 36 degrees in Fort Lauderdale, both set in 1921, and 39 degrees in Miami, set in 1927.

The coldest reading ever recorded in this region in January: 26 degrees on Jan. 26, 1905.

On the other hand, the coldest "high" temperature for Jan. 16 is 59 degrees, set in 1893, and "that one may be in jeopardy," Molleda said.

Barbara Dundee, a Boynton Beach a travel agent, said she's "definitely" looking forward to the cold.

"We live in the land of hot, and it's nice for a change to get a little break in the heat," she said. "And, considering what's going on up North, this is nothing."

On the other hand, Jim O'Connell, a Fort Lauderdale Realtor, said he's not crazy about chilly weather.

"I moved here to get away from it; I like it to be at least 65 degrees or higher," he said.

The shiver weather should extend well into next week, courtesy of a series of cold fronts. Friday should be slightly warmer than Thursday but still overall cool to cold.

Then another front arrives on Saturday, taking overnight temperatures down into the low 40s. Monday, Martin Luther King Day, is forecast to be cool during the day, chilly at night.

Warm temperatures, "if we define warm as 80 degrees," are nowhere in sight, Molleda said.

kkaye@tribune.com or 561-243-6530.

Safety tips:

Install a smoke alarm and carbon monoxide alarm near sleeping areas. Carbon monoxide, which is colorless and odorless, is a silent killer.

Never use a gas or charcoal barbecue grill inside any enclosed area.

Make a fire escape plan and practice it, with at least two ways out of every room.

Only use electric space heaters approved by an independent testing laboratory, such as Underwriter's Laboratories.

Place space heaters at least three feet away from anything that can burn, including furniture, people, pets and window treatments.

Don't hide cords from portable heaters under rugs. Avoid the use of extension cords with space heaters.

Always turn off space/portable heaters before leaving a room or going to sleep.

Supervise children and pets at all times when a portable space heater is in use. Never use space heaters to dry clothing or blankets.

Source: Broward Sheriff's Office Department of Fire Rescue and Emergency Services