In Jacksonville, the temperature was expected to drop from about 26 degrees on Thursday to around -1 degree on Friday, putting it on the path to being one of the five coldest Christmas Days on record, according to the National Weather Service in Jacksonville.
A squall line with severe storms and fast-moving winds also was headed for north Florida on Christmas Eve.
Around the state, overnight shelters were opened to take in people who would otherwise be exposed to the cold, including several churches that were planning to hold Christmas services. Many of the shelters promised social distancing and protective equipment to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The pandemic also was impacting a Space Coast tradition – Surfing Santa Day, which takes place the day before Christmas. Normally drawing hundreds of surfers in Santa costumes to the Cocoa Beach surf and thousands of their cheering supporters on the beach, this year’s event was moved online. Participants were encouraged to individually go surfing or paddle-boarding at their favourite spot and post photos or videos to social media.
But Santa was getting help from one Florida state official.
With tongue firmly planted in cheek, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried this week issued “a certificate of animal movement,” permitting Santa Claus and his wife, as well as their reindeer, “to enter and exit all homes, domiciles, encampments, and premises in the state of Florida between the hours of 8:00 PM on December 24 and 7:00 AM December 25, through or over any US border port.”
“Given the challenges of this year, we want to ensure Santa Claus can safely travel the state and spread Christmas joy to all of Florida’s children,” Fried said.