Bitter cold grips West; citrus and lettuce damaged

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 14, 2013 at 7:34 pm •  Published: January 14, 2013
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In Beverly Hills, fans brought heavy coats and scarves as they waited along the red carpet hoping to catch glimpses of stars arriving for the Golden Globes ceremony Sunday evening. Some of the actors shivered but weren't complaining.

"I'd rather be nippy than boiling hot," said actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who arrived in a strapless dress. "No, I'm not wearing any leggings or long underwear."

In San Diego, zookeepers offered extra heat and shelter for some animals.

To the east, the freezing temperatures already have done enough damage to southwestern Arizona lettuce crops that prices are increasing, said Kurt Nolte, a Yuma, Ariz.-based agricultural agent for the University of Arizona.

The area provides much of the nation's leafy greens during the winter, and farmers are reporting damage to many romaine and iceberg lettuce crops. The cold is freezing the heads of the lettuce and affecting the quality and yield, Nolte said.

The price for a carton of lettuce in Yuma two weeks ago was $7 to $8. As of Monday, it cost around $20 per carton, he said.

"That's a result of cold weather in the Yuma area for the last six weeks," Nolte said.

Overnight temperatures this week have dipped into the 20s around Yuma, and Nolte said lettuce farmers can't protect their crops.

"With lettuce, you don't have the luxury of wind machines to stir up the atmosphere," he noted. "You have to live with what Mother Nature brings. Very little can be done other than maybe running some water to protect what's going to be harvested the next day."

Nolte said Yuma farmers haven't seen much damage so far with other crops such as spinach, cauliflower and broccoli.

Metropolitan Phoenix marked one of its coolest stretches since 1988 and Sunday morning's low of 7 degrees in Douglas, Ariz., broke a record for January in the Mexican border town.

Farther north, a school district on the Navajo Nation cancelled all classes Tuesday because of freezing temperatures.

Temperatures in Window Rock, Ariz., were expected to be well below freezing Tuesday with a high of 21 degrees and a low of minus 5 degrees. The Window Rock School District posted the cancellation notice on its website Monday, saying heating the schools has been a problem.

In Nevada, the temperature in Ely plummeted to 24 below zero early Monday and wind chills were expected to drop to near 40 below into Tuesday.

And in northern New Mexico, parts of Interstate 25 and some other highways were snow packed and icy Monday, and officials warned travelers that additional light snow could lead to hazardous driving conditions when coupled with the freezing temperatures.

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Associated Press writers Walter Berry in Phoenix and Jeff Wilson and Raquel Dillon in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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