Sunny Southeast Gets Record Cold
Florida hardware stores did brisk business selling space heaters as temperatures fell to record lows across the Southeast for a third consecutive day today.
Even the tourist center of Orlando, Fla., had freezing temperatures with a record low for today’s date of 30 as a high pressure area pulled cold air into the region.
Other cities posting record lows: Greer, S.C., 9; Bristol, Tenn., 1, breaking a record of 7 that had stood since 1947; Huntsville, Ala., 14; and Columbus, Ga., 18. Key West, Fla., tied its record of 49, set in 1895.
Twelve Georgia counties closed schools again today after the Department of Transportation warned that roads were still icy from snow that fell early Wednesday. More snowfall was forecast for tonight in some areas. There were scattered school closings in other states as well.
Low humidity kept frost damage to a minimum in much of Florida.
``The crops got spared frost because of the wind and because it stayed pretty dry,″ National Weather Service meteorologist Scott Carroll said early today. ``Farmers don’t want to see freezing temperatures at the ground, which is what frost is. It didn’t get a chance to form.″
Many farmers also sprayed crops with water to protect them from the cold.
Florida Citrus Mutual, the big growers’ cooperative, wasn’t too worried about the cold’s effects on the lucrative Central Florida citrus belt. However, pickers have been scurrying to harvest as much fruit as possible and processing plants ran around the clock.
The cold meant a banner sales day Wednesday for Beach True Value hardware in Fort Lauderdale.
``If I had more space heaters, I’d be selling them, but I can’t seem to find any more,″ said Sandy Sadar, the store’s co-owner.
At Myrtle Beach, S.C., two kayakers drew some stares as they paddled through the 47-degree water of the Atlantic on Wednesday.
``I guess it does take some insanity,″ said Chris Jensen, a Coastal Carolina University student. ``It’s pretty cold, but it’s exercise.″