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Cold front to bring freezing temperatures to parts of Southwest Florida Saturday night. Area organizations offer shelter.

 Early morning frost from cold weather in 2007 in Central West Florida
Robert Nelson via Flickr creative commons
Early morning frost from cold weather in 2007 in Central West Florida

A powerful cold front moving across Florida today is expected to bring a dramatic drop in temperature this weekend, with the lowest temperatures expected overnight Saturday and into Sunday morning.

“Temperatures will range from the 20s across North Florida to the 30s across South Florida resulting in many spots experiencing widespread frost and freeze potential,” said Florida Public Radio Emergency Network meteorologist Justin Ballard.

The coldest weather in Southwest Florida is expected Saturday night in DeSoto County with temperatures forecast to dip into the upper 20s. The National Weather Service has issued a wind chill advisory for DeSoto Saturday night through Sunday morning. There’s a freeze watch in effect for Hendry, Glades and inland Collier Counties late Saturday through Sunday morning. There’s also a wind chill watch in effect for Glades and Hendry Counties through Sunday morning.

Manatee and Sarasota are expected to see temperatures reach the lower 30s Saturday night. In coastal Charlotte County, including Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda, temperatures are forecast to reach the mid 30s. Inland Charlotte County, including Babcock Ranch, is slated to see overnight lows around 30 degrees.

Inland Lee County, including Fort Myers and Lehigh Acres, are expecting lows in the lower 30s and forecasters are calling for overnight lows in the upper 30s in inland Lee County including Cape Coral, Fort Myers Beach, Sanibel and Captiva.

Lee County Government is coordinating with its partnering entities to activate its Cold Weather Outreach Plan.

Lee County Emergency Management, the Lee County Department of Human & Veteran Services, Lee County Administration and county partners are implementing the plan because of the forecast for wind chill and low temperatures below 40 degrees for an extended duration.

  • Emergency Management is monitoring the cold temperatures and encourages residents to monitor updates from the National Weather Service.
  • The county and its nonprofit partners have identified additional overnight sheltering capacity at the Bob Janes Empowerment Center and the Center of Hope. Referrals will be provided through the outreach effort.
  • The Human & Veteran Services’ coordinated entry phone line is operated 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to provide outreach locations, transportation assistance, sheltering and supplies. The number is 239-533-7996.
  • The county has identified several designated outreach locations on or near LeeTran routes for volunteers and staff to distribute blankets, hand-warmers, socks, hot coffee and free transportation provided if a homeless person accepts a sheltering offer.
  • Staff and partnering agencies will conduct targeted outreach to known homeless encampments as well as locations such as Lion’s Park, Centennial Park, Cornog Plaza at the Fort Myers Regional Library, LeeTran’s Rosa Parks Transit Center, LeeTran’s Fort Myers Beach Transfer Station, LeeTran’s Edison Mall terminal, Schandler Hall Park, and LeeTran’s Cape Coral Transfer Center.
  • Targeted outreach will happen 5 to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
  • A warming station, a LeeTran bus, will be available 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday south of Cornog Plaza.

Similarly, inland Collier County, including Immokalee is likely to see Saturday night lows in the lower 30s while coastal Collier County, including Naples, Marco Island and Everglades City, is expecting lows in the mid-30s.

St. Matthews House locations in Collier County will serve as cold-weather temporary shelters for the homeless.

Shelter locations include the Immokalee Friendship House at 602 West Main Street in Immokalee and in Naples at 2001 Airport-Pulling Road, South.

A news release from Collier County advises residents to bring pets indoors and to inspect home heating equipment before using as the National Fire Protection Association reports incorrect use of heating equipment is the leading cause of house fires.

Lee County Emergency Management, the Lee County Department of Human & veteran Services, Lee County Administration and other partners are preparing with overnight sheltering capacity at the Bob Janes Empowerment Center at 2789 Ortiz Avenue in Fort Myers. The Salvation Army’s Center of Hope at 2400 Edison Avenue in Fort Myers also has shelter capacity.

Volunteers and staff will be distributing blankets, hand-warmers, socks, hot coffee and free transportation to a shelter at targeted outreach locations in Lee County, including near LeeTran public transportation routes.

Lee County staff and partnering agencies will also be conducting targeted outreach to homeless encampments and other locations like parks and LeeTran transfer stations.

In Charlotte County, the Homeless Coalition is providing a cold weather shelter at 1476 Kenesaw Street in Port Charlotte. That shelter is taking guests between 5:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday nights.

In Sarasota, county emergency management officials are working with community and municipal partners to provide a cold weather shelter at the Salvation Army’s Center of Hope at 1400 10th Street in Sarasota. Intake starts at 7 p.m. Saturday with meals provided.

100 Church will also serve as a shelter in South Sarasota County at 14525 Tamiami Trail in North Port. That shelter opens at 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Weekend cold weather will likely result in the phenomenon of iguanas falling from trees. The invasive cold-blooded reptiles become sluggish or immobile when temperatures drop into the 40s. When this happens, the iguanas are likely not dead, and they’ll usually come out of their cold-induced paralysis and begin moving around again when temperatures increase.

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