Freeze watch issued for Manatee County as arctic blast heads to Florida

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A freeze watch has been issued for the entire Tampa Bay area, including Manatee County, except for coastal areas right by the Gulf of Mexico.

However, temperatures are likely to dip so low that the watch “will likely be upgraded a freeze warning or hard freeze warning” by early Saturday, the National Weather Service warned Friday.

Temperatures still on track to drop to the mid 20s across the Nature Coast, around 30 for the Tampa Bay metro area, and into the low 30s in the Bradenton-Sarasota area.

The freeze watch is in effect from late Saturday through Sunday morning, when the coldest weather is expected.

“Sub-freezing temperatures as low as 28 possible,” the weather service advisory says. “Frost and freeze conditions could kill crops, other sensitive vegetation and possibly damage unprotected outdoor plumbing.”

The powerful winter storm is forecast to bring blizzard conditions to much of the East Coast into Saturday. It will bring freeze temperatures into northern and central Florida, with a hard freeze watch already issued as far south as Gainesville.

Rain is possible into Saturday in Bradenton, followed by colder, drier air.

“Sunny skies can be expected on Saturday and Sunday, but daytime highs will struggle to rise out of the 40s and 50s,” the weather service forecast said.

Gusty winds Saturday are also forecast to drop the wind chill temperatures —what it actually feels like outside — even colder. A wind chill advisory has been issued for northern areas of the Tampa Bay region.

“Anyone participating in outdoor activities should ensure to bundle up properly this weekend and cover any cold weather sensitive plants or bring them indoors,” the weather service said.

Sunday’s overnight low is forecast to dip back into the 30s, but warm back up to near normal Monday.

Another weak cold front is expected next Thursday with chance of showers and “a slight cool down to close out the week.”

The weather service said Thursday the cold front could bring the coldest temperatures seen since 2018.

Bradenton forecast

Friday: Partly sunny, with a high near 69. North northeast wind 5 to 9 mph becoming west northwest in the afternoon.

Friday night: A chance of showers between 10pm and 1am. Mostly cloudy, then gradually becoming mostly clear, with a low around 45. Breezy, with a northwest wind 8 to 18 mph, with gusts as high as 24 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30%.

Saturday: Sunny, with a high near 53. Wind chill values as low as 39 early. Windy, with a north northwest wind 15 to 20 mph, with gusts as high as 26 mph.

Saturday night: Mostly clear, with a low around 32. North northeast wind 6 to 10 mph.

Sunday: Sunny, with a high near 56. North northeast wind 5 to 8 mph.

Sunday night: Mostly clear, with a low around 35. Calm wind.

Monday: Sunny, with a high near 67. Calm wind becoming east around 6 mph in the morning.

Monday night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 45. Calm wind becoming east around 6 mph after midnight.

Tuesday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 76. East southeast wind 6 to 14 mph.

Tuesday night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 57.

Wednesday: Partly sunny, with a high near 80.

— National Weather Service Tampa as of Friday morning

The graphic shows how the arctic airmass will cause a change in weather over the next three days. Jan. 27, 2022
The graphic shows how the arctic airmass will cause a change in weather over the next three days. Jan. 27, 2022