Low at dawn will be 31 degrees
Residents who rolled the dice and planted flower beds three weeks ago will have to scramble today to save their plants: Forecasters are predicting a mid-March freeze at daybreak Thursday.
Experts warned weeks ago not to plant until at least March 15 because this area of Florida is known to experience frosts ad freezes this time of year as storm fronts drag cold air down from the northern states.
Well, Thursday is March 15, and National Weather Service forecasters say the daybreak morning low will be 31 degrees in Gainesville and Ocala and colder in areas north and west.
The official forecast calls for a gradual warming trend by Sunday, when the daybreak low temperature will be near 60 and the afternoon high near 80. The average low for this time of year is 50 degrees and the average high is 75.
After Thursday afternoon's high temperature of about 70 degrees, and Friday’s daybreak low in the mid 30s, forecasters predict that Saturday will feel like a heat wave. Saturday's daybreak low is expected to be in the upper 40s, with the high rising to near 80.
The official forecast for both Alachua and Marion counties are issued by the National Weather Service in Jacksonville, while the Sun and Star-Banner uses AccuWeather forecasts on its weather page. Sometimes those predictions differ.
Ocala's official weather station is located at the city of Ocala’s water treatment plant off Southeast 36th Avenue, just north of Maricamp Road.Temperatures can vary significantly throughout Marion County, which is larger in size than Rhode Island. Temperatures are often several degrees cooler in northern and western Marion County than the official forecasts.
Also, the National Weather Service also warned of low humidity readings on Wednesday equals a wildfire threat. The area is in the middle of a dry period that some experts say could stretch to Memorial Day. That news concerns fire agencies.
Since Feb. 12, a span of 30 days, the official rain guage in Ocala has notched only .20 inches of rain, or nearly 4 inches below normal during that period. During that span at the Gainesville Regional Airport, the area has received only 0.17 inches.
Joe Callahan can be reached at 867-4113 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JoeOcalaNews.