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Cold Snap Hits California; Citrus Farmers Prepare

FRESNO — Citrus farmers in California's Central Valley made preparations Tuesday to protect their crops, as a cold front that could bring near-record low temperatures in parts of the state began moving through.

The National Weather Service issued a freeze watch for the Valley starting on Tuesday night. Temperatures were expected to be between 26 and 32 degrees, but drop even lower later in the week, reaching near-record lows into Saturday.

Bob Blakely of the citrus trade association, California Citrus Mutual, said farmers were checking wind machines and running water through their fields in anticipation of the colder temperatures. Wet ground increases the absorption of heat that can keep groves warmer at night. Wind machines keep warm air from rising.


Blakely said as of Tuesday, there was no need to panic. In fact, cold weather is good for the crops, he said.

"Trees and fruits need some of that cold weather to harden off and prepare for late December and January," he said.

Elsewhere in the state, the cold system brought high winds and some snow.

In Southern California, a high wind warning was issued for the Coachella Valley in the Mojave Desert, with gusts of up to 40 mph possible by Tuesday afternoon that could create sandstorms and low visibility dangerous to drivers, the National Weather Service said.

High winds were also expected in the mountains of northern Los Angeles County, and with them a dip in temperatures that could drop below freezing by midweek.


The northern Sierra was expected to receive several inches of snow.