The new year brings new cold as freezing weather is expected the next few nights.
The National Weather Service is forecasting below-freezing lows through Friday morning in the Central Valley. Meteorologist Tom Dang said temperatures will be in the upper 20s for the next several nights.
"It will be chilly during the evening and overnight," Dang said. "We're talking some frost in the morning, but not too thick."
The weather is expected to stay sunny, dry and chilly this week, with little fog, Dang said. The highs during the day will be in the mid- to low 50s, which is average for this time of year. But he said the lows will be about 10 degrees frostier than normal. The first week in January averages lows of about 39 degrees.
"You may have to deal with unfrosting your car a little, and the roads may be a little slick over bridges in the morning, so be careful," Dang said.
While people will likely just bundle up and crank the heater, it's important to remember animals and plants in colder weather, too.
In freezing weather, be sure outdoor pets have a warm, dry place to sleep. The Humane Society recommends a draft-free shelter that is large enough to allow the animal to sit and lie down, but small enough to hold in the pet's body heat with a raised, covered floor a few inches off the ground.
Subtropical plants should also be protected. Cynthia Tanis, a manager at Morris Nursery in Riverbank, said citrus, avocados, succulents and other tropical plants are frost tender and can be damaged or killed in freezing temperatures. Younger plants are more susceptible to frost than more mature plants.
Tanis recommends covering tropical plants with a burlap sheet. There also are row covers and freeze-proof sheets available on the market. Other products can be sprayed on plants to make them heartier to withstand freezes.
She said the region does not have any large-scale crops in season now that could be hurt by freezing temperatures. Most of the area's crops are dormant, and others are cold-hearty, such as onions and garlic.
Tanis said there is one other, more festive, way to keep plants safe during the frost.
"A lot of people hang Christmas-tree lights; that keeps them insulated as well," she said. "And the warm from the lights keeps them from freezing."
Bee staff writer Marijke Rowland can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2284. Follow her on www.twitter.com/turlocknow.