Cold, cold, cold - much of the U.S. shivering

An Arctic blast has dipped low across the U.S., hitting with intensity at the East Coast and South. Florida faces the danger of crop damage. Strollers on Mississippi beaches wear parkas instead of swimsuits. Homeless shelters prepare for a heavy influx of newcomers. Dire warnings go out about pipes (burst), plants (frozen) and pets (bring them in.)

On the other hand, skiers in the North Carolina's mountains rejoice. In Bellingham, Wash., it's a balmy 48 with cloud cover. Sacramento fears fog. New Englanders laugh at the thought of the temperature dropping to freezing being cold.

But for the rest of us —


While Christmas trees turned brown on the curb, while empty magnums of champagne cluttered the recycling bin, cruel January smacked the Raleigh area with a frigid, back-to-work wallop. The new year of the working life began at 23 degrees - an Arctic savagery expected to grind on through the week. As bleary-eyed commuters slipped keys into sleeping cars Monday morning, hundreds got only an ominous, post-mortem click from the ignition. Across the state, AAA Carolinas reported a 10 percent increase in dead batteries, and that was all before 10 a.m. Read the complete story at


Homeless shelters are preparing for one of their busiest evenings in recent memory, as the cold snap that has gripped South Florida this week is expected to send temperatures near freezing. ``Tonight looks like it will be the worst for this spell,'' Bob Ebaugh, a National Weather Service specialist, said Tuesday. ``Right now, I don't see the possibility of frost [for the metro area], but there is the possibility of freeze.'' Read the complete story at

Kansas City

Kansas Citians who not so long ago were dreaming of one white day (Christmas) now dread the likelihood of dealing with snow and bitter cold for the better part of a month. After what we suffered last week, the forecast only gets worse through this weekend: perhaps as much as four more inches of snow on Wednesday, brutal wind chills reaching 25 below zero by Saturday and not a minute above freezing until next week. Read the complete story at

Beaufort, S.C.

Cold weekend weather upset the natural order of things in Beaufort County, wilting plants, freezing ponds and bursting pipes. That same bitter chill has settled across the eastern half of the country, threatening crops, closing schools and making Charleston feel more like New York City. Record snows were reported over the weekend in Vermont, and Florida farmers scrambled Monday to save strawberries and tomatoes. Read the complete story at

Biloxi, Miss.

A blast of frigid air from Canada will hit the Coast later this week, causing temperatures to drop into the teens in some areas. The National Weather Service in New Orleans issued a hard freeze warning that began at midnight and lasts until 8 a.m. today. Robert Ricks, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said the cold temperatures could break records the rest of this week. Read the complete story at

Charlotte, N.C.

Heavy snow is falling in North Carolina's mountains, while the prolonged cold snap in the Piedmont and foothills moves into its fourth day, with no relief in sight. Temperatures in Charlotte this morning dropped into the teens for the third straight day, sending hundreds of people into overnight shelters and adding to the unusual buildups of ice on area streams, creeks and lakes. Read the complete story at

Fort Worth, Texas

The arctic blast that will drop temperatures into the low teens and the wind chill to around zero the end of this week means that gardeners need to take extraordinary precautions to protect their plants. There is some good news. Because North Texas has had several fairly strong cold spells in the past several weeks, plants have been "hardened," that is, pre-conditioned to tolerate the lower-than-normal temperatures. Also, moisture levels of the soil before, and during, hard freezes help determine the extent of damage that may be done. Dry plants usually suffer far more damage, so if you haven't watered in a while do so immediately. Read the complete story, with gardening tips at

Wichita, Kan.

Sandy Swank said she would not be able to sleep if she knew there was no place for homeless people in Wichita to stay, especially in the cold. When she wakes up and temperatures are dangerously low, as they are forecast to be this week, she said she feels better knowing people can come to the Warming Souls Winter Overflow Shelter. Read the complete story, including tips on keeping pipes from freezing, at