Record Low Columbus Day Temperatures Grip Nation

The bottom fell out of thermometers today with temperatures hitting record cold levels from Minnesota to Florida, including readings at the freezing point as far south as Alabama.

“I miss the hot weather I was complaining about just a couple of weeks ago,” said Marlene Anderson, 67, of Lawrenceville, Ga., where the low was 36. “I was just looking over my winter clothes and thinking, ‘Gee, I need to go out and get some fleece.’”

Anderson raises Cavalier spaniels for show. “They like to go out and sniff around, but when it’s this cold, they’re ready to come right back inside.”

It was the coldest Oct. 9 in more than a century at St. Cloud, Minn., with a low of 16, and Springfield, Ill., where thermometers bottomed out at 25. Previous records for the date in both cities had been established in 1895, the National Weather Service said.

Shivering Nation Record books also were rewritten in Alabama, where Huntsville dropped to 29, and in Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia, the weather service said. Records were tied in New York, Arkansas, New Jersey and Virginia.

Apple pickers had to wait an hour for frost to melt off the trees before they could start work at the Altamont Orchards near Albany, N.Y., where temperatures were around 30.

The late start will mean a late day, said orchard manager John Abbruzzese. “Instead of knocking off at five, we’ll work ‘til six, six-thirty,” he said.

Temperatures dipped to about 33 degrees today in Newport, Ky., as about 2,200 customers of the utility Cinergy sat with no natural gas for heating. Company officials said crews were working 16-hour days to repair damage from a gas line rupture that happened Thursday.

Texas-Size Ice Storm A branch of the cold wave also reached into the Southwest, where a weekend ice storm sent tree limbs crashing onto power lines in the Texas Big Bend area. AEP West Texas Utilities said crews were working today to restore power to 4,500 homes. Ice also caused weekend outages in parts of New Mexico.

“Hundreds and hundreds of trees have been destroyed or damaged across town,” Brewster County Judge Val Clark Beard said today in Alpine, Texas.

The cold touched off snow showers around the Great Lakes and northern New England.

A foot of snow blanketed parts of northern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula during the weekend and some of it was still around today.

“We’re building a golf course and the guys are working in the snow and a little bit of ice,” said owner David Lundberg at Whitecap Mountain Ski Resort near Montreal, Wis.