Cold imperils Florida's fish, fruit and veggies

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

FROSTPROOF, Fla. (AP) - Florida growers are scrambling to assess damage and pick as many oranges as possible from thousands of acres of citrus groves beset by the cold.

Freezing temperatures have been plaguing the state for a week, with several areas approaching or breaking records on Monday.

The cold is extremely tough on the state's fruit and vegetable growers, with crops such as citrus trees and sugar cane suffering damage when exposed to temperatures below 28 degrees for more than four hours. It was below 28 degrees more than eight hours overnight in the agriculture-dominated area around Lake Okeechobee.

Overall crop damage tallies won't be available for days or weeks. But the State Department of Agriculture said there has been ``significant crop damage'' throughout the state.

MIAMI (AP) - A forecaster with the National Weather Service says he had ice on his car this morning. And he says that's an ``unbelievable sight'' -- in Miami. But some relief is on its way.

This morning's temperature of 36 degrees at the Miami Airport broke a record that went back 82 years. In Key West, the reading of 42 degrees was the second-coldest since 1873. South Florida is usually around 68 degrees this time of year.

It was 14 degrees Monday in Tallahassee, which broke the old record. The cold weather, which arrived on an Arctic front from Canada, is extremely tough on fruit and vegetable crops.

Cold temperatures aren't entirely unheard of in Florida, but it's unusual for them to linger this long. Forecasters say this was the 10th consecutive day of lows under 50 degrees in south Florida, just shy of a record of 13 days set in 1940.

The state is supposed to see some gradual warming this week, with temperatures near or near normal by Friday.

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