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In Florida, no reprieve from Arctic blast

Helena Anderson (L) and her mother Daniela Birska wear jackets as they walk on the beach on January 11, 2010 in Miami Beach, Florida. The National Weather Service said it recorded 36 degrees in Miami Monday morning, which beat the 82-year-old record of 37 degrees. Photo courtesy AFP.
by Staff Writers
Miami (AFP) Jan 11, 2010
Florida woke Monday to another day of bone-chilling temperatures after days of Arctic air that have kept the southern United States -- including the usually balmy Sunshine State -- in a deep freeze.

Florida's usually mild and sunny winter weather has given way to record low temperatures during the historic cold snap.

In Miami, the thermometer dropped over the weekend to 35 degrees Fahrenheit (1.6 Celsius), the coldest since 1970.

The cold wave has wreaked havoc with Florida's 9.3-billion-dollar-a-year citrus industry and threatened regional agriculture elsewhere as well, including Louisiana's sugar cane crop.

South of Miami, the National Weather Service (NWS) early Monday reported a record low temperature in Key West, Florida of 42 degrees Fahrenheit (five degrees Celsius) -- the coldest temperature in 40 years.

The Miami area and the rest of southeast Florida were warned to brace for more temperatures skirting freezing, before warming up later in the week.

And forecasters said winds of up to 20 miles (31 kilometers) per hour in some areas were making weather conditions seem much colder.

Forecasters said it was "rare that the cold weather lasts as long as it has" in Florida, home to warm weather winter destinations as Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa and Orlando.

Meanwhile, wildlife conservation groups have warned that python snakes and other cold-blooded critters might slither inside residents' homes seeking shelter from the cold.

The frigid weather also caused several fatal accidents over the weekend.

On Saturday, in the outskirts of Atlanta, Georgia, two boys aged 13 and 15 drowned when the frozen lake they were playing on suddenly cracked open, Atlanta's Constitution Journal said.

Georgia authorities have issued warnings to the population to avoid playing, skating or driving on frozen lakes, ponds and other bodies of water where the ice can be dangerously thin.

The cold weather has not spared the rest of the United States however.

Subnormal temperatures and unusually heavy snows have plagued the entire eastern seaboard over the past several weeks.

In the northeastern state of Vermont three people including a three-year-old child perished when their snowmobile was swallowed by a frozen lake, local television said.

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US sunshine state shivers in arctic spell
Miami (AFP) Jan 7, 2010
Residents in the normally balmy US state of Florida swapped their bikinis for bobble hats on Thursday, as temperatures plummeted toward record lows. Swathes of the state -- famous for its oranges, alligators and retirees seeking year-round sun -- faced near freezing temperatures. As Floridians raced to uncover long-unused jackets, farmers battled to salvage some of the temperate and trop ... read more

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