Weird weather: Temperature extremes coast to coast

Monday, January 14, 2013 - 8:00am

Residents of large swaths of central and Southern California and Arizona shivered Saturday as plummeting temperatures prompted freeze warnings.

In Atlanta, meanwhile, shorts-wearing residents basked in the balmy weather as it and two other major Georgia cities set record highs for this date.

The weird weekend weather had temperatures as much as 30 degrees below normal in parts of the West and 30 degrees above normal in the East, said CNN meteorologist Jenny Harrison.

"We definitely have a temperature dichotomy across the U.S.," the National Weather Service said.

The Los Angeles metropolitan area keenly felt the chill, with an overnight low in Hollywood expected to dip down to 38 F. Lows near Stockton, in central California, were expected to be about 23 degrees.

The cold front was slowly marching eastward, where highs in the District of Columbia will drop from 62 on Sunday to 43 on Tuesday.

A band of moderate to heavy rainfall was expected from Louisiana north into Ohio, the National Weather Service said.

Strong winds and a possible tornado damaged two churches in Livingston County on Saturday afternoon, according to Kentucky emergency management officials. No injuries were immediately reported.

The situation was calmer in Georgia, where Atlanta's spring-like high of 76 topped the 1890 record by 1 degree. Columbus (77), and Macon (78), also broke records.

The East Coast is enjoying a ridge of high pressure that has provided a dome of warm air, said Atlanta NWS forecaster Keith Stellman.

But by Wednesday, the high in Atlanta will be in the 50s, and lows will reach the mid-30s. "Basically we will be back to normal temperatures," Stellman told CNN.

Parts of the West were enduring the coldest air of the season thus far.

According to CNN affiliate KCAL, freeze warnings were expected to be in effect through 9 a.m. Sunday for most of Southern California, with a freeze watch posted for Sunday night through Monday morning.

In Arizona, a freeze warning will remain in effect in Phoenix until Tuesday morning.

The Phoenix Rescue Mission reached out to those who were spending the night outdoors by providing blankets and clothing items.

"As the cold weather takes effect on people and they're out there in the elements, we want to remind them that we bring a team of people who actually care about them," the organization's Clifford Danley told CNN affiliate KTVK.

Arizona citrus growers scrambled to protect their trees.

One grower deployed circulating water to produce heat and smudge pots. "You work for 360 days and these five days can wipe you out," said John Babiarz of Greenfield Citrus Nursery in Mesa.

KOLD, an appropriately named CNN affiliate in Tucson, said temperatures on landmark Mount Lemmon dropped into single digits early Saturday. Overnight freezing temperatures will continue through Tuesday.

A family's effort to help warm up cold cats backfired Saturday morning, according to Tucson affiliate KGUN.

Fire officials said homeowners set up a heat lamp and blankets on their back patio.

Apparently, the lamp fell onto the blankets or the blankets were to close to the heat source, starting a fire that caused an estimated $15,000 in damage to the home.

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CNN's Susan Candiotti contributed to this report
 

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