Cold snap hits southeast

Cold, snow and wind that hit the east coast last week reached down to the deep South.

BY TRAVIS DUNN | BALTIMORE | January 29, 2003

The cold, snow and wind that hit the east coast Thursday reached down to the deep South, dumping up to a foot of snow on the Outer Banks of North Carolina and threatening citrus crops in Florida.

Wind was also a problem more than two dozen states issued wind chill warnings and advisories Thursday night.

Cape Hatteras received a full foot of snow, the largest accumulation since it got buried in Dec. 23, 1989, according to the National Weather Service (NWS) at Moorhead City, N.C.

"Due to high winds that accompanied the storm, exact measurements are difficult to obtain. Some unsheltered areas had very little accumulation, while other areas reported over 12 inches of snow. There were numerous reports of three to four foot drifts," according to the NWS at Moorhead City.

In Florida, West Palm Beach set a record low temperature early Friday morning 35 degrees.

Florida citrus growers were anxious about the effect of the frigid temperatures on their crops, which account for more than $9 billion in profits a year.

But Eric Boomhower, spokesman for the Florida Department of Citrus, said the fears wound up being unfounded.

"It looks like we came out of this one pretty lucky," he said. "It looks like Mother Nature had a little mercy on us."

Boomhower said major damage usually occurs when temperatures drop below 28 degrees for more than four hours. This didn't happen, he said.

Another reason citrus crops escaped the cold, Boomhower said, was the practice of spraying the trees with water, which then rapidly freezes, and provides a layer of insulation between the fruit and below-freezing temperatures.

At least one death in Indiana was attributed to the cold.

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