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Bitter Arctic Air Over Northeast; Cold Reaches Down to Florida

December 4, 1989

Undated (AP) _ Arctic air howled across the nation’s northern tier today, and winter’s bite was felt as far south as Florida, where a possible frost kept citrus growers checking their trees and sun lovers all bundled up.

Heavy snow buried parts of Maine, West Virginia and the Great Lakes states. Some snowbelt areas received nearly 2 feet of winter’s white by early today.

Schools were closed in two counties in West Virginia and in northern areas of Maine. In Pickens, W. Va., 14 inches of snow fell and temperatures dipped to 6 degrees overnight.

The frigid winds were expected to drop wind chills to 50 degrees below zero in northern New York and Vermont.

In St. Paul, Minn., the cold apparently killed two homeless men, police said Sunday. The wind chill dipped to minus 11 Saturday night.

At Miller’s Bar in St. Paul, a man in his mid-60s who gave his name as ″Hard Rock,″ said he knew the victims. He feared more homeless would meet the same fate.

″This is going to happen all winter - people dying in the cold,″ he said.

In Agawam, Mass., where temperatures dipped to near zero, police found the body of a 60-year-old homeless man outside a trailer Sunday morning.

″He had apparently tried to get into the trailer,″ Police Officer Wayne Macey said.

The wintry weather was blamed for at least four other deaths this weekend. Three people died in two separate traffic accidents on snow-covered New York highways, while one person was killed in a crash on an icy Montana road.

In Maine, Loring Air Force Base in Limestone reported 26 inches of snow on the ground late Sunday. But an additional foot of snow may fall before the storm ends, forecasters said.

The National Weather Service said some areas of New York state east of Lake Erie were expected to receive almost 2 feet of snow by the end of the storm.

West Valley, a hamlet 30 miles south of Buffalo, received 18 inches by late Sunday. The snow didn’t keep everyone in.

A fund-raising event at the West Valley Volunteer Fire Department drew 60 people, and at the West Valley Market a steady stream of customers filed by cashier Marcia McCabe.

″We’ve had people coming in and they say it is up to their knees,″ she said.

Squalls produced up to a foot of snow in northeastern Ohio and in western Pennsylvania.

In the Deep South, cold winds blew across Georgia. Temperatures with the wind chill factor plummeted as low as 10 degrees in Atlanta. Winds gusted to 30 mph Sunday night in the Atlanta area.

In Florida, the season’s most severe cold was expected to send temperatures to near record lows before warming later this week. Lows today should range from the mid-20s in the Panhandle to the mid- to upper 40s in the Keys, according to the weather service.

But many citrus growers said they weren’t too worried about the chill.

″Actually, a cold snap like this can be quite beneficial,″ said Bill Becker, chairman of the Florida Citrus Commission. He said temperatures in the 30s accelerate citrus growth and put the trees into a dormant phase, which make them more resistant to future cold weather.

Heavy damage occurs when temperatures go below 28 degrees for more than four consecutive hours, he said.

Update hourly