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Cold Weather Shelters To Open In NWFL

The return of winter weather the next few days is opening the doors to cold weather shelters across the Florida Panhandle.

Lows Friday evening are expected to drop to near freezing, and not much of a rise on Saturday night according to Dave Eversole at the National Weather Service in Mobile.

“We’re getting a really big chance in the Jet Stream pattern over the central and eastern United States,” says Eversole. “Which is allowing for surges of progressively colder air to move down into the region.”

Temperatures Friday night are expected around 30 degrees, with not much of a warmup for Saturday evening. Highs during the period are expected in the 50s.

Generally speaking, local shelters open when the nighttime lows drop to below the 40-45 degree mark. Ferris Hill Baptist Church in Milton will be open Friday evening, hosted by Pastor Brian Nall.

“Cots are ready to go, our volunteers are ready to go,” Nall said. “So anybody in the community who is either homeless or heatless, we’re ready to welcome them tonight between 6:30 and 8:30 p.m.”

No one will be admitted after 8:30 p.m. at Ferris Hill, unless brought in by law enforcement. Nobody will be allowed to stay if under the influence of drugs or alcohol, are disoriented, or are unable to walk unaided. The shelter closes at seven o’clock the following morning.

Also getting ready for larger numbers the next couple of nights is Waterfront Rescue Mission in Pensacola. Vice President of Ministry Bob Rogers says they can take as many as 200 people. He says they usually begin checking in at the Mission around mid-afternoon, with the doors open until 8:30 p-m.

“They need to have a picture ID,” said Rogers. “We will ask them to blow into a breathalyzer, and there may be random drug tests.”

Waterfront’s shelter on Herman Street is for men only. Rogers says women and children can go to The Beacon – a shelter on Gregory Street near Pace Boulevard.

Normally, when a cold snap runs its course this time of year there’s a period of warm-up. Will we see that here? No, says NWS forecaster Dave Eversole.

“We’re actually going to get another surge of colder air, almost straight out of Canada,” Eversole says. “We could see early next week [nighttime] temperatures down into the 20s.”

Crestview’s rotating Cold Weather Shelters will open tonight through Sunday night, starting at six o’clock. This (Friday) evening it’s at First Presbyterian Church; Saturday, First United Methodist Church, and Sunday at Lifepoint Church.