US cold wave sprinkles rare snow on Florida

Washington, Jan 10 - The frigid air mass holding much of North America hostage put Florida in a deep freeze early Sunday after sprinkling a rare phenomenon on the sunshine state of Florida: snow.

The state was bracing for temperatures of minus 10 to minus 4 degrees Celsius through Sunday morning as orange and strawberry growers fought to save their crops.

Large flakes of snow fell over the southern state, traditionally the refuge for sun lovers fleeing the grey winter of more northerly states.

"This is very unusual," a spokesman for the National Weather Service said.

Bismarck, North Dakota, was the coldest spot, with temperatures dipping to minus 30 degrees.

Icy wind gusts and drifting snow have brought chaos to the roads across the Mid-west and North-east. In Tennessee, several people froze to death in unheated homes. Homeless shelters were packed to the brim in Alabama.

On the East Coast in Maryland, dozens of brown pelicans who failed to join the flock flying south in the autumn were rescued from freezing cold. Their frost-bitten feet were bathed in warm water, The Washington Post reported.

Manatees, the large marine mammals in the inland waterways of the south, gathered near water outlets kept purposely warm by wildlife officials, CNN reported. Sea turtles were brought into marine sanctuaries. (dpa)