NATION : Cold Blankets East Down to Florida

From Times wire services

A blast of cold air covered a wide area of the eastern United States today, dumping snow in the South and plunging temperatures below freezing as far south as Florida, where citrus growers closely monitored the advancing chill.

The National Weather Service said the cold wave stretched from northern Minnesota to central Texas, the Florida Panhandle and into New England. Florida agriculture officials did not expect the cold to be a serious threat to the state's citrus crop but snow fell in the northern reaches of the state and a quarter inch was reported at Demopolis in west-central Alabama. The snow was considerably deeper in Tennessee. Nearly 2 feet of snow fell in the Great Smoky Mountains, forcing the closing of the heavily traveled U.S. 441. At Memphis, Tenn., the temperature fell to 17 degrees, breaking a record that had stood for a century.

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