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Cold weather: winter is chilliest 'in many people's memory’

Cold weather across much of the East has orange growers pulling all-nighters in Florida, city workers in Atlanta scrambling to fix burst pipes, and the homeless struggling in Memphis.

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Residents of Miami donned heavy coats and wool mufflers Monday to face down the coldest weather to hit the usually balmy city in decades, reported the Associated Press.

An already saturated ground layer, ice cold river water coming into the system, and old pipes have meant dozens of water main pipes are breaking in and around metro Atlanta, with public works crews frantically patching pipes.

Department of Public Works supervisor Tommy Jenkins told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Tuesday morning that the situation “right now [is] more than we can handle.”

Concern is growing in both cities and rural areas for those stuck outside or in cold houses.

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Memphis, Tenn., authorities reported three casualties due to the freezing temperatures, including one man who died inside a house. In Nacogdoches, Texas, emergency officials urged residents to check the antifreeze levels in their cars and to make arrangements for pets and livestock. They noted that mobile homes are especially prone to burst pipes.

'Cold weather wimp'

Jennifer New, the south Georgia correspondent for the Examiner, marveled at the finger-freezing temps.

“I am now, officially, geographically misplaced without a cause," she wrote. "I live in south Georgia because I am a cold weather wimp. After years of harsh Boston weather ... I was eager to get to a place where that doesn’t happen, so I settled in south Georgia. Boy, was I misled!”

After heavy snow fell across the Midwest and Northeast, St. Joseph, Mo., saw a minus-16 degree reading Monday, the coldest day in that city since 1947. Dallas, Little Rock, and Jacksonville all saw temperatures 20 degrees F below normal.

Awaiting the next blast of Arctic air expected to arrive Thursday, Florida orange growers are tending their groves around the clock, checking thermometers and spraying their trees with mist to create insulating cloaks of ice around the tree trunks. So far, growers have taken no losses, but processors are working around the clock as farmers bring in ripe fruit ahead of this weekend’s expected freeze.

“We’re trying to do everything we can to get out of this, but Mother Nature speaks,” says Ron Hamel, general manager of the Gulf Citrus Growers Association in LaBelle, Fla.

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