It is time to bust out the sweatshirts, blankets and the space heater, as the first cold snap has made its way to the Florida Keys.
Temperatures in the Keys were expected to dip into the 50s on Tuesday and the high on Wednesday is only forecast to get into the 70s, said Justin McReynolds, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service station in Key West. The cold front and rain showers made its way to the Keys on Monday night, McReynolds said.
The weather is expected to remain cool through Thursday, with temperatures returning to the upper 70s on Friday, McReynolds said.
The Keys Overnight Temporary Shelter, the homeless shelter on Stock Island, did not experience a surge in people on Monday night, and KOTS manager Elicia Pintabona did not expect a surge on Tuesday night, but the shelter has been operating at capacity for the past several weeks as temperatures to the north have dropped and the seasonal homeless have returned.
The cold snap is welcomed news for Keys commercial fishermen, as historically such a snap motivates stone crabs and spiny lobster to start moving.
However, the wind and waves as a result of the cold snap make for less than desirable working conditions for trap fishermen.
“It hit us about 60 miles offshore yesterday,” Conch Key-based fishermen Gary Nichols said Tuesday. “I am tired and beat up. There were 10-foot seas. They were like mountains out there.”
The National Weather Service had issued a small craft advisory on Tuesday and Nichols’ fleet remained at the dock on Tuesday.
Lobster landings in the Keys have been low in recent weeks, but the stone crab claw harvest has been fair, Nichols said.
“This (the cold front) should definitely help out,” Nichols said.
Keys Energy Services issued a reminder regarding portable space heaters with the week’s colder temperatures. Key points include: Plug portable space heaters directly into an outlet and do not use an extension cord; keep heaters away from passageways, and at least 3 feet away from all flammable materials; and unplug and safely store portable space heaters when not in use.