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Here comes winter's coldest blast so far — Southwest Florida style.

Overnight low temperatures are forecast to dip into the 30s later this week, putting farmers on freeze alert and prompting cold weather preparations at homeless shelters in Naples and Immokalee.

Thermometers will fall to near 40 degrees by Thursday morning and reach into the upper 30s inland. The lowest temperatures could drop to near-freezing inland by Friday morning.

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Official temperatures haven't been that low since February 2015, when the Naples Airport reported 36 degrees, NBC-2 chief meteorologist Allyson Rae said.

A warm-up isn't expected to take away the chill until Sunday.

"It's a long little cold snap for us for sure," Rae said.

Temperatures in the 30s might qualify as a relative heat wave in Minneapolis, but they add up to a dangerous situation for homeless people used to wearing T-shirts and shorts, said St. Matthew's House CEO Vann Ellison.

The shelter already is distributing blankets and sleeping bags and going through its thrift store stock looking for jeans and coats, Ellison said.

He said the shelter plans to put mattresses on the floors in the dining hall and in hallways to make more room for 50 to 60 homeless people in addition to the 104 existing beds at St. Matthew's House.

The Immokalee Friendship House has room for 44 people but serves as many as 70 shelter seekers in cold weather, he said.

"It really pushes us facility-wise to the max," Ellison said.

Citrus and vegetable growers in inland parts of Southwest Florida are keeping a close eye on the forecast.

"It's going to be a little dicey," said Hendry County extension director and vegetable agent Gene McAvoy.

Tender crops such as tomatoes, corn and beans are at greatest risk, McAvoy said, but much will depend on whether a breeze will keep away any damaging frost.

He said growers will do what they can to protect their crops with coverings or by raising water tables in their fields to create warmer micro climates.

Citrus grower Wayne Simmons, with LaBelle Fruit Co., said the plunging temperatures are not expected to stay low enough for long enough to damage his fruit.

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Bone-chilling cold gripping much of the U.S. is breaking century-old records. The National Weather Service has issued wind chill advisories and freeze warnings covering a vast area from South Texas to Canada and from Montana through New England. (Jan. 2) AP

The colder weather could have a positive side effect of helping sweeten his oranges, Simmons said.

"We're hopefully going to be OK," he said.

The low 40s is cold enough to damage tropical or subtropical flowers and plants, said commercial landscape horticulture extension agent Doug Caldwell.

"We're kind of dancing on the edge of plant tolerance," he said.

Caldwell suggested bringing in potted plants from outside. Other plants should be covered with frost cloth or cotton sheets. Plastic should be avoided, he said.

Covers should reach to the ground and be supported so as not to rest on plants, experts said.

Pine straw or newspapers can help insulate the plants. Overturned pots or buckets also can be used for protection, Caldwell said.

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