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Temperatures Rise in Florida : Lake Erie Area Sets December Record for Accumulated Snow

December 29, 1985|From Associated Press

Snow fed by moisture off the Great Lakes piled up a December record Saturday along Lake Erie, but Florida warmed up with little crop damage reported after a frost scare.

In the West, Seattle's airport was fogbound again. And the midnight low of 7 degrees below zero at Boise, Ida., broke the city's record of minus 4 for the date set in 1983. It was Boise's 18th consecutive day of subzero temperatures.

At least 22 deaths in nine states since Wednesday have been blamed on wintry weather, 10 of them in Michigan.

The Coast Guard said Saturday that it was calling off a search for three fishermen missing a day after their boat capsized and sank in high seas in icy Lake Michigan 17 miles from Chicago. Three other men were rescued Friday morning.

A winter storm warning for heavy snow was issued for New York along eastern Lake Ontario and travelers' advisories were posted for parts of Michigan, northeastern Ohio and northwestern Pennsylvania.

Snow in Ohio

Jefferson, Ohio, got eight inches of snow overnight and parts of nearby Lake County had up to five inches.

Erie, Pa., got five inches of snow overnight for a total December accumulation of 57 inches, breaking the record for the month of 56 inches, set in 1963, the National Weather Service said.

More snow was forecast, and that could put Erie's all-time record for monthly accumulation, 62.4 inches set in January, 1978, within reach, the weather service said.

Along the New York shore of Lake Erie, Buffalo set a record for December snowfall, with 62.5 inches, eclipsing the 1976 record of 60.7 inches. Debbie Bauer of the weather service said more snow was predicted and that the single-month record snowfall of 68.3 inches set in January, 1977, also could fall.

The area is affected by what meteorologists call "lake effect" snow, a dense accumulation caused when west wind absorbs moisture over a long stretch of water, then drops it in the form of snow over land. The phenomenon subsides when the lake freezes over.

Snowed Every Day

Lake effect also was taking its toll on Barnes Corners, N.Y., a tiny hamlet east of Lake Ontario, where it has snowed every day in December, dumping 96.8 inches.

Matt Macierowski, a weather service volunteer, said two feet of snow fell in Barnes Corners overnight Friday, bringing the amount on the ground to five feet.

Temperatures across central and southern Florida headed back into the 70s Saturday after two days of record lows, and growers reported little damage to fruits and vegetables.

Scattered Crop Damage

Scattered damage was reported, from cabbages near Hastings in northeastern Florida to cucumbers around Fort Myers on the southwest coast, but "it looks like we got by in good shape, and we feel very fortunate," said Jerry Chicone Jr., an Orange County citrus grower and grove manager.

Some damage was reported to the state's multibillion-dollar citrus crop, caused mostly by icing in some oranges and grapefruit. But industry officials said it was extremely sporadic and widely scattered, and the trees themselves escaped damage.

In the Northwest, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport got a brief break from the fog during Saturday morning, but visibility later dropped to only 600 feet, below the minimum landing and takeoff requirements of even the most modern airplanes, airport supervisor Pete Wise said.

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