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States battered with record lows face more frigid weather

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Another cold night ahead
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Florida governor declares state of emergency to protect crops
  • Atlantic, Iowa, breaks record low set in 1958 with minus 29 degree temperature
  • Homeless man found frozen to death in Kansas City, Missouri
  • Winter storm warnings north, hard freeze warnings south

(CNN) -- Another band of frigid weather will blanket the eastern two-thirds of the nation Wednesday, battering states already dealing with record-low temperatures that have been blamed for at least five deaths.

The system will bring blistering cold weather and winds across the country, including many states not used to such temperatures.

In Florida, Gov. Charlie Crist declared a state of emergency because of the threat to the state's lucrative crop industry. His order aims to help farmers across the state salvage what they can by lifting weight limits on trucks and allowing them to get already harvested crops out of the cold.

In other areas of the country, low temperature records are being broken and are likely to continue to fall.

Later this week, the temperature could drop below zero for the first time in St. Louis, Missouri, since 1999, according to the National Weather Center.

Little Rock, Arkansas, could see an actual temperature of 10 degrees and wind chill of 20 below zero on Friday morning, according to the National Weather Service.

The high temperature will be in the 20s on Thursday and Friday in Dallas, Texas, where consecutive days that cold have not happened since 1998, the weather service said.

The northern Plains could see wind chills of 20 to 30 below zero through Wednesday, CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said.

"Some locations could see temperatures 30 to 40 degrees below normal" on Thursday across parts of the Plains, upper Midwest and Ohio River Valley, CNN meteorologist Sean Morris said. By Friday morning, afternoon highs will struggle to make it above zero, he said.

"What's unusual about this is the length of the cold snap," CNN meteorologist Rob Marciano said.

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"Typically across the South, you'll get a two- to three-day cold snap, and then temperatures will moderate," he said. "But we're getting reinforcing shot after reinforcing shot, and that pattern doesn't look like it wants to break down until at least next week."

Some states were still dealing with the aftermath of the first cold snap. In Atlantic, Iowa, a record set in 1958 was broken when the temperature dropped to minus 29 degrees Monday, according to the National Weather Service.

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Safety officials in Virginia warned children and adults to stay away from frozen ponds and streams.

A homeless man was found frozen to death in Kansas City, Missouri, where the temperature was 1 degree Tuesday morning, and Salvation Army officials said they desperately need donations of hats, gloves and socks, CNN affiliate KCTV reported.

The temperature is not expected to rise above zero in Kansas City on Friday.

A winter storm watch is in effect for Kansas City, where 2 to 4 inches of snow and near-blizzard conditions will be possible on Wednesday afternoon, CNN meteorologist Sean Morris said. A winter storm watch has also been issued for Memphis, Tennessee, where 2 to 4 inches of snow will be possible from late Wednesday evening into Thursday morning.

The northern Plains could see wind chills of 20 to 30 below zero through Wednesday, Myers said.

"Some locations could see temperatures 30 to 40 degrees below normal" on Thursday across parts of the Plains, upper Midwest and Ohio River Valley, Morris said.

A winter storm warning for moderate to heavy snowfall was in effect into Tuesday afternoon in parts of northwestern Washington state, northern Idaho, Montana and northern Wyoming, the weather service said.

Moderate to heavy snowfall also is possible in much of North Dakota from Tuesday to Wednesday, the weather service said.

A dusting of snow will be possible in Atlanta, Georgia, on Thursday, Morris said.

At least four cold-related deaths have occurred in Tennessee. One was an 81-year-old Alzheimer's patient who apparently wandered outside during the night wearing nothing but a bathrobe, police said. John Anderson's body was found in his driveway Monday morning.

The Salvation Army shelter in Lubbock, Texas, is making room to let more people in out of the cold, CNN affiliate KCBD reported.

Shelters in Jackson, Mississippi, were reaching capacity, CNN affiliate WLBT reported.

New Jerusalem Church in Jackson was opening its doors to help the homeless.

"We had one of the gentlemen tonight who lives under the bridge. ... He's never been to a shelter, and he said, 'You know, Miss Liza, my bones can't handle it anymore,' " New Jerusalem Church spokesperson Eliza Garcia told WLBT.

Winter weather tips
Your home: Cover pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic and allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing.

If your pipes freeze, remove layers and wrap pipes in rags. Open faucets and pour hot water on them in the areas most exposed to cold.
Use care with space heaters -- make sure they are not near anything that can catch fire. 

Frostbite and Hypothermia: Depending on the windchilll, at 10 degrees it can take only 30 minutes to get frostbite. As the windchill rises and the temperature decreases, it can take only up to five minutes to develop frostbite.

Look for white or pale appearances in extremeties, or loss of feeling in fingers, toes, ear lobes, and the tip of the nose to identify frostbite.

Symptoms of hypothermia are disorientation, uncontrollable shivering, slurred speech, drowsiness, and exhaustion.

Sources: FEMA, CDC

The frigid air reaches all the way south, jeopardizing berry and citrus crops in Louisiana and Florida.

Watch how berry farmers are trying to save their plants

Some hard freeze warnings were also in effect in Louisiana and parts of the state could see temperatures drop into the 20s, some of the coldest weather in the area since 1996, CNN affiliate WWL in New Orleans, Louisiana, reported.

Supplies for protecting pipes from freezing were disappearing from area stores, CNN affiliate WDSU reported. It forced some to discuss other options -- like wrapping pipes in newspaper and covering it in plastic, WDSU reported.

Hard freeze warnings were in effect Tuesday morning for much of northern Florida and parts of other Gulf Coast states, according to the National Weather Service.

"For Florida, they're going to see the coldest stretch in 15 to 25 years," Marciano said. "They get freezes like this, but they don't get them for this length of time, and that's the danger that will probably wear the farmers out."

In Winter Park, Florida, some students found themselves unable to escape the elements even once they got to school -- a faulty air handler left Aloma Elementary School without heat, CNN affiliate WKMG in Orlando reported.

Growers are spraying water on their trees to form a protective coating of ice, said Andrew Meadows, spokesman for Florida Citrus Mutual, a trade group representing about 8,000 growers. As long as temperatures don't drop below 28 degrees for more than four hours, damage should be minimal, he said.

However, forecasters say colder air is on the way.

"Tonight's going to be another anxious night," Meadows said. "I'm sure a lot of growers will be pulling all-nighters."

Farmers in Louisiana such as Eric Morrow told CNN affiliate WDSU in New Orleans they were also waiting anxiously, hoping their strawberry crops don't get destroyed at the height of the growing season.

Charlotte County, Florida, planned to open a cold weather shelter Tuesday evening, CNN affiliate WINK reported. Other counties were taking similar steps.

Shoppers at clothing stores were were clearing racks of warm coats, CNN affiliate WKMG in Orlando, Florida, reported. The cold can be lethal to Florida's tree-dwelling iguana population, too.

The reptiles fall into a sort of suspended animation that mimics death when the temperature drops below 40, but they could indeed die if it stays below 40 for more than three days, according to CNN affiliate WFOR.

Lows reached the teens Tuesday morning in parts of Alabama, according to the weather service. Record lows were expected in many areas across the South, CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said.

The Weatherization Trust, a nonprofit group in Omaha, Nebraska, stepped in to help a family whose furnace quit in the midst of the freeze, CNN affiliate KETV reported.

Tracy O'Boyle and her family have been using an oven to stay warm, but the nonprofit group has procured a replacement furnace, to be installed by the end of the week, KETV reported.

"We're just grateful we're going to get the furnace in a few days," O'Boyle told KETV. "We've already lasted more than a week without one and it's been really cold."

CNN's Jim Kavanaugh contributed to this report.

 
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