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As coldest Christmas in years arrive for South Florida, agencies look to help the homeless

Agencies distribute blankets as cold weather comes to South Florida
Agencies distribute blankets as cold weather comes to South Florida 02:51
NEXT Weather Friday Forecast 12/23/2022 12PM 02:38

MIAMI - A persistent northwest wind along with lingering clouds have the chance to make this one of the coldest Christmas Days since 1995.

The arrival of Arctic air to South Florida led many people in the region to take precautions to stay safe and warm.

For those without permanent shelter, that would be difficult to do.

"I've got a truck and if things get really windy and nasty out, I can just get in the truck, you know," said Michael Holland. "Unlike a lot of these folks on the street who are going to be stuck in it."

Holland said he planned to stay in his truck and hunker down on Christmas, when the high temperature is expected to only reach the 50s.

"When we get cold front around here, and people are on the street, there's a chance, there's a possibility that they might not come through this," Holland said.

Members of Miami's homeless outreach team were working Friday to get people off the streets and into shelters while others offered blankets and food ahead of the cold snap.

"I went ahead, and I purchased the blankets," said one Good Samaritan who did not want to be identified. "And I brought them out because I know that, you know, we have people out here (when) it's going to be below 40 and I want them to be warm."

The kindness from some lifted the holidays of people like Holland and others who are facing hard times.

"Every blanket helps, every sweater helps, every smile helps, believe it or not," he said.

Volunteers with the Miami Dade Homeless Trust were also out Friday walking through areas to urge unsheltered people to go to shelters for warmth.

According to Ron Book, chairman of the organization, there are over 1,100 homeless people in Miami-Dade County but not all of them were eager to go to shelters.

Officials said many unsheltered change their mind when they realize they can't handle the cold weather.

"I want that option, is a good one," Tania Gell, who initially did not understand what the Homeless Trust Volunteers were saying to her because of language barrier. 

After finding out she could have a warm place to spend the night and Christmas, too, she said, "I'm ready to go."   

Local officials also warning homeowners of the dangers they could face during this cold snap.

"Never use charcoal grills or any fuel burning devices indoors as well as these can produce very dangerous levels of carbon monoxide," said Erika Benitez, director of Media and Public Relations with Miami-Dade Fire & Rescue. "Ensure that your home has working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. These can save your life."

Officials are also urging anyone using heating equipment to keep it at least 3 feet away from anything flammable.

Miami to have one of its coldest Christmas Days in 27 years NEXT Weather

It's been awhile since it was this cold  

It has been several years since South Florida saw weather this cold during this time of year.

When considering the lowest high temperatures recorded at Miami International Airport since 1937, the temperature in 1983 only reached 51 degrees but both 1989 and 1995 saw temperatures staying below 60 degrees.

The forecast high for Sunday, Dec. 25 is 59 degrees, which would tie the 59-degree high in 1995, making this the third lowest high temperature.

As recent as 2020, the low-temperature Christmas morning was 49 degrees. Unlike that year, however, clouds and a strong northwest wind will persist which will keep temperatures down throughout the day. Throw in a shower or two and temperatures may be stuck in the 50s for much of the weekend including Christmas Day.

CBS 4 meteorologist Dave Warren and CBS 4 reporter Annamarie McAllister contributed to this report.

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