Widespread cold air is already pouring into the Plains and Deep South. This cold will last through Christmas weekend into early next week and could threaten citrus groves across Florida.
America's top orange juice maker is already battling a record decline in crop this season because of citrus greening, a devastating crop disease, and damage sustained by Hurricane Ian and Tropical Storm Nicole earlier this year. Now a cold blast could damage crops even more. Bloomberg quoted Paul Markert, a meteorologist with Maxar Technologies Inc., who said South Florida could see temperatures as low as 31 degrees Fahrenheit on Friday.
World Weather Inc.'s Drew Lerner said computer models are evolving, and temperatures could dip even lower. He said four hours or more of sub-28 degrees could damage citrus crops. He added the cold shot could cause irreversible damage to the state's cane harvest, much of which still needs to be harvested.
Weather Channel meteorologist Jim Cantore tweeted, "You can see the Arctic front scream through the southeast on the 23rd and the COLD just lock in for days afterward. Protect your pipes even into Florida. Yes those are teens in the panhandle!"
The decimation of Florida's citrus crop has caused shortages for beverage makers, including Minute Maid owner Coca-Cola Co. and PAI Partners, which owns Tropicana. This means orange prices at the supermarket will continue to rise. Orange juice futures are near record highs.