Gusts up to 50 mph, temps in the 50s. South Florida gets a taste of winter this weekend

Traveling this holiday weekend?

Allow extra time. And if you’re flying in from the north, Florida’s not going to let you forget that that first day of winter was Friday.

Thursday’s severe storm threat for the state — which brought thunderstorms to a rather parched South Florida — was a preface to a cold front arriving on Friday afternoon that will pull temperatures in Miami-Dade and Broward into the mid-50s, with a high of just 70 degrees Sunday and it will be cool and dry through Christmas on Tuesday.

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National Weather Service in Miami’s prediction through the start of Christmas, December 2018.

National Weather Service

But there is a hazardous weather warning in effect through Saturday.

On Friday, the weather service issued a gale warning is in effect for all South Florida waters, according to the National Weather Service, with wind gusts possible to 50 mph. Winds along the mainland are forecast to sustain around 25 mph with gusts up to 40 mph through Friday into Saturday morning.

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A swimmer struggles against rough seas and strong wind gusts on Virginia Key Friday morning, December 21, 2018. The weather was part of a cold front that pushed through late Thursday and into Friday.

Emily Michot emichot@miamiherald.com

A high rip current risk, high surf, and coastal flooding concerns, all remain in effect through Friday night from the Florida Keys to Collier County.

The winds were so high in parts of Florida, the Florida Highway Patroll in Tampa closed the Sunshine Skyway Bridge to all traffic Friday morning, the Bradenton Herald reported.

Spectrum Bay News 9 posted video of winds — said to have gusted to hurricane force at 78 mph at the top of the bridge —that turned a surveillance camera’s image focused on the Skyway Bridge into a stomach-churning shake.

Now, add a wet storm system along the eastern coast of the U.S., and travel delays — both in the air and on ground — are almost a certainty for this super busy travel weekend as families hope to get home, or leave home, for Christmas.

“We have 18 canceled arrivals today from East Coast cities affected by the weather,” said Greg Chin, communications director for the Miami-Dade Aviation Department. Miami International Airport saw 27 flights diverted to other airports Friday night amid the wet, windy weather.

“Today was already projected to be one of our busiest days of the winter season, and now airlines will be getting back on schedule from yesterday,” Chin said.

Some good news: The Weather Channel says there are no major storms on the horizon for the Christmas holiday.

Now, about that political storm that may bring about a government shut down after midnight Friday unless the two parties can agree to fund President Donald Trump’s wall ….