Unusual cold settles across the Deep South

AP News
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Posted: Nov 18, 2014 1:41 PM
Unusual cold settles across the Deep South

The lament from New Orleans to north Florida was the same: It's much too cold for this time of year.

Sub-freezing temperatures haven't been prolonged, but even the daily highs are roughly 20 degrees lower than normal in several places. The sun was out and roads were dry — no "icepocalypse" this time, and certainly no snowdrifts like those accumulating in Buffalo, New York, where 3 feet blanketed the area.

But it did make things unpleasant for people who expect a bit balmier weather before Thanksgiving.

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'AS LONG AS MY HANDS ARE WARM, I'M ALL RIGHT'

In New Orleans, 56-year-old James Simon skipped the homeless shelter where he usually sleeps. It was just too crowded there Monday night, so he slept in an abandoned house before coming outside Tuesday morning and holing up beneath the Pontchartrain Expressway overpass downtown.

The house is Simon's usual spot when the shelter is too crowded, and he said he has a blanket and a cushion for sleeping.

"It don't have no heat, no electricity or nothing. It's just an abandoned house," he said. "They got all the windows where the air can be blocked, I get cold in there, but when I wrap up in my blanket I be all right."

It's not the coldest it's ever been in New Orleans. Temperatures were hovering just above freezing Tuesday morning. Still, Simon said he was bundled up with two sweaters, a jacket and three T-shirts.

"I'm dressed for it. I got a lot of clothes," he said. "As long as my hands are warm, I'm all right."

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'IT'S AS COLD HERE AS IT IS IN DENMARK'

Morten Larsen took photos of a monument to the 1996 summer Olympics in downtown Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park on Tuesday morning as his wife, Annette, stood nearby, a loosely knit shawl pulled over her head, a light scarf knotted tightly around her neck and her hands shoved deep into the pockets of her jeans.

The couple is visiting from near Copenhagen and was caught off-guard by the 30-degree weather. Temperatures were expected to dip back to the 20s overnight.

"It's as cold here as it is in Denmark right now. We didn't expect that," Larsen said, waving a hand over his denim jacket, buttoned tightly over a hooded sweatshirt.

They arrived Monday night from Florida and were unpleasantly surprised. They had plans to visit The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birth home and explore some of Atlanta's neighborhoods before heading to South Carolina later in the week.

Larsen said they're looking forward to the projected warm-up over the next couple of days, but they might have to bolster themselves against chilly weather and occasional gusts of wind in the meantime.

"If we see somewhere to buy winter clothes, I think we'll stop and buy something for my wife," he said.

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'IT GETS COLD HERE SOMETIMES, BUT YOU GOT TO WORK'

In downtown Pensacola on Tuesday, Stephen Wahol and his construction crew donned hoodies, jeans and boots as they got ready to work inside an unfinished home.

Temperatures were in the low 30s in the morning after an overnight low of just 27. The average low this time of year is around 50 degrees.

"It gets cold here sometimes, but you got to work," Wahol said.

The sun was shining brightly, which helped ease the chill.

"I was out working when there was ice here last year, and that was seriously cold," Wahol said.

Elsewhere in the Florida Panhandle, cities opened emergency cold weather shelters and officials encouraged residents to take precautions when using gas heaters.

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Associated Press reporters Kate Brumback in Atlanta, Melissa Nelson-Gabriel in Pensacola and Gerald Herbert in New Orleans contributed to this report.