Cold spell expected to last past holiday weekend


South Florida will feel another slap of winter this weekend with overnight temperatures dropping into the 40s and daytime highs unlikely to breach 70 on Sunday.

The cold spell — Palm Beach County’s third since mid-December — is part of a bold low pressure system sweeping the country and triggering winter storm warnings from northern Mississippi to upstate New York, flood warnings in Pennsylvania and even a freeze watch in a patch of northeast Florida.

It is not forecast to be as brutal as last week’s spat of chill that left Palm Beach County farmers with frost-ruined crops.

But the low’s trailing cold front, that was forecast to pass into the Florida Straits overnight, will bring northerly winds bearing dry arctic air that could cap today’s high temperature at 70. Sunday morning’s mercury reading may be only in the 40s along the coast, with cooler temperatures inland.

Wind chill temperatures Sunday morning could drop into the 30s around Lake Okeechobee, according to the National Weather Service.

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“Saturday night into Sunday morning is probably going to be the coldest period,” said Stephen Konarik, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Miami. “It won’t be as strong as last week, even though it’s going to be pretty cool.”

Sunday’s daytime will be anchored in the mid-60s for most of Palm Beach County with overnight lows in the 50s.

That cooler pattern should repeat through much of the week as an incoming high pressure system keeps pumping northern air into the Sunshine State.

The normal daytime high temperature for mid-January is 74 degrees, with an overnight low of 57.

Related: Remember when it snowed in South Florida?

Mostly sunny skies should prevail under the high pressure, but Konarik warns boaters looking to get out on the water during the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend should watch the forecast for hazardous conditions and a possible small craft advisory.

“We will have some fairly strong winds so anyone boating should exercise some caution,” said Konarik, noting winds of up to 20 mph are forecast over the Atlantic waters today, with potentially stronger winds Sunday.

Ahead of the storm in the northeast, flooding was reported in parts of western Pennsylvania and New York as heavy rains led to swollen creeks and ice jams — stationary blocks of ice on bodies of water that restrict flow and can cause flooding.

On the storm’s backside, the northeast will deal with a heavy blast of arctic air.

“After reaching the 50s and 60s along the Interstate 95 corridor late this week, high temperatures will be held in the 20s and 30s by late this weekend into next week,” said AccuWeather meteorologist Kyle Elliott.

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While not as cold as up north, South Florida could see a repeat its unique wintertime problem of cold-stunned iguanas. The cold-blooded reptiles, along with other invasive species such as knight anoles, can become paralyzed when temperatures reach much below 50 degrees. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials warned last week that iguanas can fall from trees if temperatures drop for too long.

“Reptiles don’t work too well in the cold,” Konarik said. “Temperatures will be in the 40s and 50s for a couple of mornings so there could be possible iguanas falling.”

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