Cold snap stops short of damaging E.V. citrus - East Valley Tribune: Weather

Cold snap stops short of damaging E.V. citrus

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Posted: Tuesday, November 30, 2010 1:36 pm | Updated: 11:21 pm, Wed Nov 2, 2011.

A freeze warning that was in effect throughout the Valley Tuesday morning because of a low-pressure cold front from the West Coast caused some concern among citrus growers but stopped short of damaging crops.

The cold front caused temperatures to drop to the low 30s and even the high 20s in some outlying areas of the south East Valley, with an overnight low of 36 degrees in urban areas, said Valerie Meyers, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service.

About 5:45 a.m. on Tuesday, Chandler and Gilbert each experienced low temperatures of 27 degrees, Mesa dropped to a low of 30 degrees overnight and Tempe had a low of 35 on Tuesday, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Charlotte Dewey.

The unseasonable cold and temperature drop worried one citrus farm owner in Mesa, who thought workers were going to have to start up wind machines and possibly irrigate the 40-acre farm to generate steam from frost and keep the trees warm.

But the low in east Mesa was 33 degrees, and Denise Burden, owner of B and B Citrus Farms at 3404 N. Val Vista Drive, said temperatures have to drop lower than 32 degrees for three to five hours before crop damage could happen.

“Before the evening was over, we thought it was going to drop below 32 degrees,” Burden said. “The wind machines keep the air moving so it doesn’t settle and freeze the fruit.”

Normal temperatures for this time of year are about 70 degrees for highs and around 46 degrees for low temperatures, Dewey said.

“If you have any decorative plants, cover them up,” Meyers said. “Bring your pets inside, or at least make sure they are sheltered. It’s possible that some areas could drop below freezing.”

Although some areas of the Valley near Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport received about 1/100 of an inch of rain over the weekend due to increased cloudiness and the cold front, it is expected to warm back up by the middle of the week. The high on Monday was 58 degrees, and a high of 69 was forecast for Wednesday.

High temperatures are expected to reach into the 70s on Wednesday and last throughout the weekend, Meyers said.

“A high-pressure system is building back up and it should stay in the 70s through the weekend,” Meyers said. “That should keep it warm, and we’ll see what happens after that.”

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