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Extreme Cold: About

Basic Information

How cold does it get?

Winter in North Florida brings extreme cold to over several months of the year to Tallahassee. Average temperatures in Tallahassee during the winter months range from the low 40s to the mid 60s. Temperatures routinely drop below freezing (32°F). The record lows in Tallahassee for November-March range from 20°F to an all-time low of -2°F.


When does extreme cold become dangerous in Florida?

During the winter of 1898-1990, 26 Floridians died of hypothermia. Because or normally mild temperatures, Florida homes often lack adequate heating and insulation and the Florida outdoor lifestyle leads to danger for those not prepared. In addition to the actual temperature, when the wind blows, a wind chill (the temperature that it feels like) is experienced on exposed skin. Cold weather has been known to cause problems with electric supply. A blackout could result in near-freezing temperatures inside houses.


What are the hazards of extreme cold?

Several hazards from extreme cold include bursting pipes, plant damage, fires from heating sources, power outages, traffic accidents, frostbite and hypothermia.


Why should I be concerned about wind chill?

The wind chill is the cooling effect due to the combination of temperature and wind. It is expressed as the loss of body heat. Wind chill is calculated based on temperature and wind speed. The colder it is and the higher the winds, the colder it will feel.  Skin exposed to low wind chill values can result in overall body cooling that result in hypothermia, a dangerous medical condition.  In some extreme cases, frostbite (damage to skin and other tissues due to freezing) may occur.


How will I know extreme cold weather is coming?

The National Weather Service will issue Frost Advisories, Freeze Watches or Warnings, Hard Freeze Watches or Warnings, and/or Wind Chill Advisories, Watches or Warnings.  These products will be relayed to the Florida State campus community via our Keep FSU Safe brand.


Definitions and Terms

Freeze

A freeze occurs when the surface air temperature reaches 32 degrees Fahrenheit or below over a widespread area for a significant period of time.


Freeze Watch

Conditions are favorable for a freeze event to meet or exceed Freeze Warning criteria in the next 12 to 48 hours during the locally defined growing season.  The National Weather Service office in Tallahassee stops issuing Freeze Watches for our region after the first two or three freezes of the fall/winter season. 


Freeze Warning

Widespread forecast temperatures at or below 32 °F (0 °C) during the growing season within the next 12 to 24 hours. A freeze may occur with or without frost. The National Weather Service office in Tallahassee stops issuing Freeze Warnings for our region after the first two or three freezes of the fall/winter season. 


Frost

Frost is the coating or deposit of ice that may form in humid air in cold conditions, usually overnight. In temperate climates it most commonly appears as fragile white crystals or frozen dew drops near the ground. Frost forms when the temperature of a solid surface in the open cools to below the freezing point of water and for the most clearly crystalline forms of frost in particular, below the frost point in still air.


Frost Advisory

Minimum sheltered temperatures are forecast to be 33 to 36 °F (1 to 2 °C) during the locally defined growing season on nights with good radiational cooling conditions (e.g., light winds and clear skies). Widespread frost can be expected.


Hard Freeze

The National Weather Service in Tallahassee defines a hard freeze in our region as widespread temperatures at or below 26 °F (−4 °C) for at least two hours in duration. A hard freeze may occur with or without frost.


Hard Freeze Watch

Conditions are favorable for a hard freeze event to meet or exceed Hard Freeze Warning criteria in the next 12 to 48 hours.


Hard Freeze Warning

Conditions for a hard freeze are forecast to occur within the next 12 to 24 hours. 


Wind Chill

Wind Chill is the perceived decrease in air temperature felt by the body on exposed skin due to the flow of air. Wind chill numbers are always lower than the air temperature for values where the formula is valid.  In other words, when wind and cold temperatures combine together, this is what it will feel like on exposed skin. 


Wind Chill Advisory

The National Weather Service office in Tallahassee will issue a Wind Chill Advisory for our region if wind chill values of +1 to 20 °F (-17 to -7 °C), in the midst of at least 5 mph winds, are imminent or occurring.


Wind Chill Watch

The National Weather Service office in Tallahassee will issue a Wind Chill Watch for our region if conditions are favorable for wind chill values of less than 0 °F (-18 °C), in the midst of at least 5 mph winds, to occur within 12 to 48 hours.


Wind Chill Warning

The National Weather Service office in Tallahassee will issue a Wind Chill Warning for our region if wind chill values of less than 0 °F (-18 °C), in the midst of at least 5 mph winds, are expected to occur within 12 to 24 hours.

History

What is the all time record low temperature for Tallahassee?

The all time record low of -2 °F (-19 °C) was officially measured in Tallahassee on February 13, 1899.  In the modern National Weather Service era, the record low of 6 °F (-14 °C) was measured at Tallahassee Regional Airport on January 21, 1985.


What are the lowest wind chill values observed in Tallahassee?

Unfortunately, this is not a value that the National Weather Service keeps records for. 


When was the last hard freeze in Tallahassee?

The last observed hard freeze in Tallahassee was on Friday, February 20, 2015. 

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