COLUMBIA, S.C. – A bitter chill has settled in across the eastern half of the country, threatening crops, closing schools and making Charleston, S.C., feel more like New York City.
Records snows were reported over the weekend in Vermont, and farmers in Florida scrambled Monday to save strawberries and tomatoes.
The deep freeze will last for at least the rest of the week. The National Weather Service said the mercury could fall below zero in St. Louis for the first time since 1999.
In Burlington, Vt., a weekend snowstorm dumped more than 33 inches, breaking a single-storm record of nearly 30 inches set in 1969.
Most took it in stride, but some took it too far: Vermont State Police cited a man after stopping him pulling a sled – with a rider in it – behind his car on Interstate 89 on Sunday. He was cited for driving with a suspended license.
In Nashville, Tenn., where the overnight low was 12 degrees, police believe an 81-year-old man with Alzheimer’s wandered outside in his bathrobe and froze to death, the Tennessean reported. His body was found early Monday.
Wrecks on icy roads killed at least two other people. A woman died near Mount Nebo, W.Va., when she lost control of her pickup Sunday. And in Washington, D.C., a man died after his car ran off the road Sunday and plunged under a sheet of ice covering a creek.
Homeless shelters braced for a crush of people and said they would not turn anyone away.
In Florida, farmers prepared for a long week trying to protect crops.
“The problem now is that we have a weeklong freeze predicted,” said Ted Campbell, executive director for the Florida Strawberry Growers Association. “It’s an endurance test.”