South Florida braces for 'hazardous' cold and falling iguanas as temperatures dip into 30s

The coldest night in as many as two years is looming for Florida, where temperatures could tumble into the 30s and 40s along the peninsula early Wednesday. Freeze warnings are up for much of central and North Florida, while wind chill advisories blanket South Florida.

According to the National Weather Service, cold-stunned iguanas may fall out of trees without warning. The NWS says Miami will be exposed to "hazardous" cold as temperatures bottom out in the 40s.

As the NWS forecast office in Miami reminded Floridians: "Iguanas are cold-blooded. They slow down or become immobile when temps drop into the 40s. They may fall from trees, but they are not dead."

Experts warn that most of these lizards, which are not native to Florida, will recover; they do not recommend collecting them.

With winds of about 10 mph combined with temperatures in the 30s and 40s, wind chills could fall into the 20s and 30s Wednesday morning.

The weather will affect the city's efforts in aiding homeless and vulnerable populations, many of whom may not have adequate clothing or shelter appropriate for such low temperatures. Instances of hypothermia are technically possible at temperatures as high as 50 degrees in strong enough winds.

The coldest temperatures will be found in northern areas of the state, where the Panhandle could drop into the 20s.

In Tampa, lows in the mid-30s are possible, while Miami is anticipated to drop into the lower 40s. Exposed inland areas between them could experience overnight lows in the mid-30s - particularly if the wind goes calm.

Miami hasn't dipped below 45 degrees since Jan. 4, 2018; two weeks later, Tampa reached 29 degrees. The city hasn't fallen below freezing since.

The official forecast low in Miami is 44, 15 degrees below average for the date. The National Weather Service in Miami is warning that the "very cold air and strong winds" of about 13 mph "will result in frost bite and lead to hypothermia if precautions are not taken."

"If you must venture outdoors, make sure you wear a hat and gloves," the National Weather Service wrote.

Temperatures near or below freezing can significantly affect agriculture, particularly the state's sensitive citrus crop. Record cold spells in 2010 as far south as the Everglades and Miami-Dade and Collier counties reportedly caused half-a-billion dollars worth of agricultural losses.

Temperatures are forecast return to seasonable levels Thursday, with overnight lows in the 50s to near 60.


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