Freeze warnings issued for Central Florida

Hard freeze warning issued for Marion, Flagler counties

ORLANDO, Fla. – Rain -- not snow -- fell across Central Florida on Wednesday and freezing temperatures will follow as an arctic blast grips most of the United States.

"The rain, embedded with a couple of heavier downpours, will be off and on throughout the day," said News 6 meteorologist Troy Bridges said, adding that most of the region will see rain.

"Temperatures are too warm across Central Florida for any chance of snow in the Orlando area," Bridges said. "There is a winter weather advisory in effect for north Florida, from Gainesville to Jacksonville, bringing them the risk for some sleet, snow and freezing rain."

The Florida Panhandle, which saw snow in early December, saw another round on Wednesday.

Expect a high temperature in the upper 40s Wednesday in the Orlando area. 

"Once the moisture moves out of Central Florida, temperatures will drop," Bridges said. "Expect morning lows near and below freezing across Central Florida for Thursday, Friday and Saturday mornings."

A hard freeze warning is in effect for Marion and Flagler counties from 6 p.m. Wednesday to 11 a.m. Thursday.

A hard freeze means temperatures will be 27 degrees or less for at least two hours.

A freeze warning has been issued for most of the rest of Central Florida from 3 a.m. to 9 a.m. Thursday.

"This means upper 20s and low 30s for several hours," Bridges said.

Sumter County is under a freeze watch.

High temperatures will remain in the low 50s on Thursday and Friday. Highs will reach the upper 60s by Sunday.

"After Wednesday, there is no chance of rain for the rest of the week," Bridges said.

Meanwhile, schools are closing in parts of north Florida as the state braces for an unusual winter storm that could bring a mix of snow and ice.

Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday urged families to be prepared for severe weather.

Scott directed state transportation workers to spray down state bridges and roads with a saline solution in anticipation of the storm.

More than 20 counties have or were planning to open cold weather shelters.

Schools in five districts have already announced they would be closed on Wednesday. The city of Jacksonville announced it was closing its offices out of "an abundance of caution."

State government offices were expected to be open.

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