California chills, but dodges crop damage as temperatures plunge


LOS ANGELES — Some normally warm California spots shivered Sunday as early morning temperatures plunged, leaving even polar bears at the San Diego Zoo seeking shelter. But growers in the Central Valley were relieved to learn most orange and lemon crops probably avoided significant damage despite temperatures in the high 20s Fahrenheit (-4 to -1 Celsius).

“We were just a little bit colder, by a degree or two,” said spokesman Paul Story of California Citrus Mutual, a growers’ trade association. “For the navel oranges, that’s not cold enough to do a measurable amount of damage.”

He said more sensitive mandarin oranges may have suffered some minimal damage.

It was the third night of successful crop protection for farmers, who run wind machines and water to protect their fruit, but growers weren’t done yet.

“We’ve got at least one more night of cold temperatures,” Story said.

In the Los Angeles area, famously torrid Woodland Hills, which usually makes news for its triple-digit Fahrenheit (above 38 degrees Celsius) temperatures, had an overnight low of 30 degrees F (-1 degrees Celsius). That was warm compared to Lancaster in north Los Angeles County, which hit 15 degrees F (-10 C).

Temperatures reached the low 20s F (-6 to -4 C) in the San Francisco Bay area.

In the East Bay city of Walnut Creek, the National Weather Service reported an overnight low of 23 F (-5 degrees C), while in the Santa Clara County community of Scotts Valley, the temperature dropped to 26 F (-3 C).

Meanwhile, in the Sierra Nevada, temperatures plunged below zero F (-18 C) overnight, and after a day in the 20s F (-6 to -1 C), another subzero night was expected.