- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 3, 2008

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A wintry system that added inches to record snow accumulations in some Northern states sent temperatures plummeting yesterday in the South, where farmers scrambled to protect their crops.

Temperatures were expected to drop into the 20s and teens in parts of Florida by this morning, following the 30-degree temperatures some northern parts of the state saw yesterday.

The cold spell could prove devastating to the state’s citrus industry, which is the nation’s largest and already has suffered from years of disease and hurricanes.

“We will have a lot of growers across the state pulling all-nighters and keeping a close watch on their groves and the temperature,” said Andrew Meadows, a spokesman for the growers’ advocacy group Florida Citrus Mutual. “We are cautiously optimistic the industry can weather this cold snap without significant damage.”

To help growers, Gov. Charlie Crist has signed an emergency order to relax restrictions on transporting produce.

Crops can withstand some cold, but not for long. Thirty-two degrees for four hours will damage an orange, for example, but 28 degrees for that long can actually ruin the tree.

Following the snowiest December on record, many areas of New Hampshire got about a foot of snow on New Year’s Day, with a couple of inches added during the night and a couple more yesterday. Storm totals could reach 18 inches in parts of Maine and New Hampshire and up to a foot in Vermont.

The latest snowfall in New England followed a storm Monday that made for the area’s snowiest December in decades. December’s snowfall at Concord, N.H., totaled 44.5 inches, toppling a record of 43 inches that had stood since 1876. Burlington, Vt., got 45.7 inches, far above its 17.2-inch December average, and Portland, Maine, amassed 37.7 inches for its third-snowiest December on record.

Snow fell yesterday from Ohio through eastern Kentucky and West Virginia into parts of Virginia and Maryland.

West Virginia’s rugged Randolph County got 13 inches at Kumbrabow State Forest, the weather service said. At least 40 of West Virginia’s 55 counties closed all public schools yesterday because of snow-covered roads and freezing temperatures.

Dozens of schools also were closed yesterday in southeastern Michigan, where a six-hour burst of snow on Tuesday dumped as much as 16 inches north of Detroit, the weather service said.

One person was killed in a weather-related traffic accident in Ohio, the Highway Patrol said.

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