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Winter chill sweeps the area

Temperatures expected to rise into weekend

January 8, 2014
Pine Island Eagle

Following two chilly days and nights, temperatures are expected to rise into the weekend.

"We had a strong cold front go by," Paul Close, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service's Tampa Bay office, said Tuesday. "Cold air came in overnight - breezy northerly winds."

Monday night, the lows in Lee County ranged from 38 degrees to 44 degrees.

"On the coast, it was warmer," he said, noting that the cooler temperatures were inland.

No freeze warnings were issued Monday for Southwest Florida.

"The big thing was the windchill this morning (Tuesday)," Close said.

Fact Box

Cold weather safety tips

- Wear layers of lightweight clothing to stay warm; gloves and a hat help maintain body heat.

- Place space heaters on a level hard surface; keep them at least 3 feet away from anything flammable.

- Turn off space heaters and make sure fireplace embers are out before leaving a room or going to bed.

- When using a fireplace, use a glass or metal screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.

- Never use a stove or oven to heat your home.

Source: Cape Coral Fire Department

The windchill was in the upper 20s to mid 30s for the area. For example, at 8 a.m. Tuesday, the temperature in Fort Myers was recorded at 44 degrees with northeast winds at 17 mph.

"It made it feel like 36 (degrees)," he said.

Temperatures Tuesday rose to the mid 50s in the Cape, before they were expected to slip back down during the night into the upper 30s to mid 40s inland and along the coastline, Close explained.

"The temperature will climb back into the low 70s," he said of Wednesday, adding that they are expected to dip into the low 60s tonight. "We're back to the low 80s by Thursday and Friday."

Record lows for the area were reported three years ago in 2010.

The Salvation Army of Lee, Hendry and Glades Counties opened its shelters both Monday and Tuesday night for people seeking some warmth and safety from the chilly temperatures.

Kris Volpone, a volunteer coordinator, explained that the Cold Night Shelter program goes into effect when the temperature falls below 40 degrees, which includes the windchill factor. The building at 2476 Edison Ave. is opened for the men, while the building at 2400 Edison Ave. is for women and children.

Monday night, 21 men stayed at the shelter; four people used the women and children's area.

A free dinner is available from 5 to 7 p.m., before the shelters open.

"A lot of folks that did sleep there did show up for the meal," she said of Monday's turnout.

Shelter guests typically wake up between 6 and 7 a.m. the next day.

"It does need to be available by 9 a.m.," Volpone said of the shelter space.

Monday night, The Salvation Army handed out sleeping bags, coats, socks, gloves and hats. Donations of gently used items, especially hats and gloves, are welcome to help restock the supply.

"It is a peaceful shelter. It is not a wet shelter," she said, adding that security is on hand at all times.

"They are encouraged not to be inebriated to shelter with us," Volpone said of shelter guests.

While the cold snap was brisk but short lived, people should remain safety conscious.

"We want people to be mindful," Michael Heeder, a spokesman for the Cape Coral Fire Department, said Tuesday. "We still have several weeks and months of winter to go."

"We're not done with the cold weather yet," he said.

The three biggest concerns: space heaters, smoke detectors and basic individual care.

"Space heaters can be a greater risk in this part of Florida because they're not used as regularly," Heeder said.

Heaters should be at least 3 feet away from anything combustible, like curtains or furniture.

"Place it in the middle of the room, where there's nothing around it," he said.

Test smoke detectors monthly and change the battery twice a year, even for hardwired models.

"Those are one of those items that are out of sight, out of mind," Heeder said. "But people need to remember those detectors are there for a good reason."

When changing a detector's battery, vacuum or brush away any dust or cobwebs.

"They are like any other home appliance, they need cleaning," he said.

Officials recommend replacing smoke detectors every 10 years because they can break down.

As for basic individual care, Heeder explained that it relates to cold air, dryness and dehydration.

He explained that a cold front produces dry air and low humidity, which in turn can make the elderly and small children more susceptible to dehydration and more susceptible to winter illnesses.

"Drink a lot of clear fluids," Heeder said.

For more cold weather safety tips and information, visit the CCFD on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/CapeCoralFD or follow it on Twitter at: twitter.com/CapeCoralFD.

 
 

 

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