Florida oranges, deep freeze: State not expecting damage to citrus from cold temps

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Fern growers checked their irrigation systems to make sure they will be ready to combat cold weather and shelters opened around the state as Florida prepared for freezing weather.

A hard freeze warning was issued for the northern half of the state. Emergency management officials warned that Monday night was expected to be the coldest night of this winter season, and record-low temperatures were expected to be broken in north Florida.

Temperatures were expected to get as low as the upper teens in north Florida, with the wind chill making it feel as cold as zero degrees.

In central Florida, low temperatures were expected to be in the mid-30s, and they were forecast to be around 40 degrees in South Florida overnight.

Citrus impact

Florida's citrus industry isn't expecting any damage to crops from a deep freeze afflicting much of the continental U.S.

Florida Citrus Mutual spokesman Andrew Meadows said temperatures must be at 28 degrees or lower four hours straight for fruit to freeze badly.

Some pockets of low-lying areas could get that cold, but not any large swaths of land.

Meadows said he is optimistic the citrus crop will stand up well to the colder temps.

A "polar vortex" is expected to bring below-zero temperatures to much of the U.S. starting Sunday. In Florida, the drop won't be as steep, but some counties are opening cold weather shelters for residents who need a warm place to stay.

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