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CRYSTAL RIVER — Warm, dry, rain, cold.
Welcome to a typical Florida winter.
Temperatures in the low 30s greeted Citrus County on Friday morning but it had warmed into the 60s by mid-afternoon.
Rain was forecast Friday night and today, followed by a chilly Sunday, warmer through the week and another cold front Thursday.
Get the picture?
Brian McClure, Bay News 9 meteorologist, said the weather pattern for this winter looks scattered — in other words, normal.
“It’s a very typical weather pattern for winter — up and down, up and down,” he said.
After a dry November, December has seen some significant rain showers, McClure said. Those rain bands are followed by drops in temperatures, then clearing and cold nights.
The holidays and cold weather are a natural draw for tourists to see manatees at Three Sisters Springs. Michael Lusk, manager of the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge, said Friday he enlarged the sanctuary at Three Sisters to accommodate a large number of manatees that have gathered to warm themselves.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this year declared all of King’s Bay a manatee refuge, giving Lusk the authority to expand sanctuaries or close springs during extreme cold.
Lusk said he would be unlikely to close the springs based simply on a cold morning or two. A continuous cold snap, he said, might lead to the springs being closed.
“As long as it’s getting warm during the daylight, I’m not too concerned,” Lusk said. “Closing Three Sisters is a last resort.”
McClure said Citrus County residents shouldn’t concern themselves with a repeat of 2010, when record low temperatures kept the area shivering through January, February and part of March.
“I don’t see that pattern. That’s a tough pattern to hold,” he said. “Last year was more typical. It’s all about perception. People think we live in Florida, it’s not supposed to get cold. It’s just averages. So far this winter is starting out typical.”
ON THE NET: For up-to-the-minute weather, go online to www.baynews9.com.
Contact Chronicle reporter Mike Wright at 352-563-3228 or email@example.com.