Fox News Weather Center

Rain, then Spotty Frost for Florida, South Freeze

Rain will settle southward across the Sunshine State later in the week. Meanwhile, a brief visit of cold air will chill residents and visitors this weekend across much of the South.

As a storm system bringing the soaking rain to the mainland South, this week will swing toward the Atlantic coast Wednesday. As this happens, a zone of rain will sag southward over the Florida Peninsula during the day Wednesday and into Wednesday night.

The event has the potential to bring the most significant rain since the start of the year for some of the central and southern counties. Some of the central counties of the state can pick up 0.25 to 0.50 of an inch of rain.

Even so, most of the rain is likely to fall in the north and in the south, since the front associated with the rainfall will pick up forward speed after affecting the interior South then will slow down and may stall over the southern counties of the state.

As a major storm tries to take shape just off the Atlantic coast this weekend, colder air driving southeastward from Canada will reach the South. This could be the most significant cold of the winter so far for the interior South and some of that air will spread across the Florida Peninsula over the weekend.

There has not been arctic air driving this far south this winter. Arctic air masses have been stopping short of the region or passing by to the east too quickly to allow the cold air to settle in.

The center of the arctic high will drive southward through the Plains, then it will turn eastward along the Gulf Coast. As this occurs, winds will diminish under clear skies during the nighttime hours, setting the stage for temperatures to plummet.

According to Agricultural Meteorologist Dale Mohler, "The coldest spots in the citrus groves of central Florida will probably dip to 31 degrees for a couple of hours."

Most citrus crops can handle those temperatures for that duration with few or no problems.

"However, a frost or brief freeze could be a problem for more tender fruits and vegetables," Mohler said, "The days of most concern for Florida would be Saturday night/Sunday morning and Sunday night/Monday morning."

Temperatures will get much lower over the northern counties of the state and in the interior south and are likely to surpass the lowest temperature of the season so far in New Orleans, Atlanta and other major population centers as well as rural areas this weekend.

Thumbnail image of frost on plants as an illustration by