How to weather the cold


A tree located on the outskirts of Straughn Blueberry Farm in Windsor, Fla., collects ice from the over spray of sprinklers used to protect the farm's blueberry trees from a freeze Tuesday, January 30, 2007.

(DOUG FINGER/The Gainesville Sun)
Published: Tuesday, January 30, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 30, 2007 at 12:22 a.m.
Temperatures were expected to dip to 24 degrees in Gainesville this morning, coming close to Gainesville's record low temperature of 20 degrees for Jan. 30 - in 1966. Here area some things to know as the cold weather moves through the area.
Warmer weather ahead?
Gainesville residents can expect a warming trend for the rest of the week, with no additional hard freezes forecast in the next seven days, according to the National Weather Service. Still, forecasters said the area will see at least another day of cold temperatures, with tonight's low expected to be 35 degrees and Wednesday's high expected to be 54 degrees. Phil Peterson, a Weather Service meteorologist, said the average low temperature for this time of year is 42 degrees and the average high is in the mid-60s.
Pipes frozen?
1. Locate the frozen area of the water pipe. Likely places include pipes running against exterior walls or where your water service enters your home through the foundation.
2. Keep the faucet open so thawing water will begin to flow through the frozen area. Running water through the pipe will help melt more ice in the pipe.
3. Apply heat to the frozen section of pipe using an electric heating pad, a hair dryer, a portable space heater or towels soaked in hot water.
4. Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. If you can't find or thaw the frozen area, call a licensed plumber.
Not sure a plant made it through the night?
Be patient, said Riley Blitch, owner of Garden Gate Nursery. "It might look terrible, but it's hard to tell which part of the plant survived and which died right away." First, Blitch said, give the plant a generous drink, as cold weather has a drying effect on plants. Wait a few days, then check to see if the plant is alive or dead by scraping a bit of the bark off to see if it's green underneath. If part of your plant has died, wait until the spring to trim it back; the dead area could help prevent more damage if the area gets another hard freeze.
What farmers will do Many area farmers will spend the morning covering plants that have blooms and berries with water to stave off cold damage. When the water freezes, it forms a protective icy shell around the cold-susceptible blooms and berries. Alto Straughn, who farms blueberries and other crops in Alachua County, said the icing method is a reliable way to protect berry crops from hard freezes. "If we didn't freeze, weather like this would kill away most of our crop," Straughn said. "But we have the capacity to freeze-protect down to the upper teens. We lose a lot of hours of sleep, but that's part of the business."
- Amy Reinink

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