TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) -- The cold-weather season can bring in bouts of brutal chill. However, a change in the criteria for plunges of polar air makes them harder to produce a true hard freeze for the north Florida/south Georgia region.
Monday, after the first widespread light freeze of the season, officials from the Tallahassee branch of the National Weather Service adjusted the requirements for the definition of a "hard freeze."
Hard Freeze Watches and Warnings will be issued for parts of the area that have a chance to encounter low temperatures of 20° or colder.
The announcement of the new guidance does not mention a required duration of time for temperatures to reach 20° or less.
Previous guidance required low temperatures to reach 26° or below for at least two hours.
Staff from the local NWS office cite a survey of dozens of regional plumbers as the reason to adjust the hard-freeze definition. According to their input, exposed piping is more likely to suffer bursts when minimum temperatures fall into the teens.
Various factors, such as age, lack of insulation, and amount of exposure, can cause pipes to fail even in temperatures above hard-freeze range. Light-freeze conditions similar to the chill from earlier this week are generally less likely to result in pipe and plumbing damage.
Suwannee, Hamilton, Echols, and Clinch counties fall under the jurisdiction of the Jacksonville National Weather Service office. As of Tuesday, their hard-freeze definition has not changed: Temperatures must fall to 27° or lower for at least two hours.