Image: Weather in Florida
Lynne Sladky  /  AP
Teresa Husen of Stockholm, Sweden, walks with her children Edwin, left, and Elvira, right, as a cold rain falls in Miami Beach, Fla., Saturday. A cold front brought rain and falling temperatures to South Florida.
updated 1/9/2010 6:58:50 PM ET 2010-01-09T23:58:50

Mark and Barbara Willard were at home in Wickford, England two weeks ago checking the weather forecast on the Internet before packing for their trip to Orlando — sunny and 70 degrees.

On Saturday afternoon they had the hoods on their brand new coats pulled tight around their heads as the walked down the International Drive tourist strip. The weather: 35 degrees and cloudy with a chance of icy rain or even snow.

"The good news is two days after we go home we're off to Jamaica," said Mark Willard.

The bad news is they paid in advance for theme park tickets and instead spent more time at shopping malls buying winter clothing — a few hundred dollars worth, he said.

Across Florida, the weather was freakishly cold for a state that's a winter respite for so many. There were snow flurries spotted in several parts of the state, as far south as Naples on the gulf coast. In Miami, the temperature was forecast to drop just below freezing overnight and threatened to break the record for low temperatures in the city.

In perhaps a bit of an understatement, Melbourne-based National Weather Service forecaster Bob Wimmer said it was an "unusual weather event."

"I walk my pups at 5:30 before I come in on day shift and those three little Yorkies are not happy," he said.

For other parts of the country, the weather was less unusual for winter, but still harsh.

Slow going
Amtrak said some trains between Chicago and Denver and between St. Paul, Minn., and Seattle wouldn't operate Saturday and Sunday because of cold, high winds and drifting snow.

An ice jam along the Mississippi River prompted the National Weather Service to issue a flood warning for southwest Illinois and northeast Missouri. The weather service said the river was near the 16-foot flood stage in Hannibal, Mo., on Saturday.

And the ferry that serves as the only connection between western Kentucky and eastern Missouri was shut down Saturday afternoon because of ice in the harbor and Mississippi River. Kentucky Department of Transportation spokesman Keith Todd said with temperatures expected to remain below freezing, operations for the Dorena-Hickman Ferry would be evaluated daily to decide when the crossing can resume.

As the arctic cold began to ease in some parts of the nation, residents in northern Florida were under a hard freeze warning with temperatures expected to drop to 20 or below overnight.

'It ruined our holiday'
In the Florida Keys, a tropical paradise where people usually pay attention to the heat index, a term more often reserved for Northerners was being used: wind chill. Gusts were predicted to make the air feel like the upper 20s.

Video: Florida's freeze For Alfonso Idiaquez, the weather brought back flashbacks to the life he left behind in Cleveland seven years ago.

"It feels like we're living in Ohio," said Idiaquez, 43, of Kissimmee. "My son was laughing. He said, 'We need to buy shovels for the snow.'"

Marion White was not laughing. She was shivering uncontrollably from head to toe as she and her family walked down Orlando's International Drive.

"It ruined our holiday," said White, 46, of Dublin, Ireland. "It's absolutely dreadful."

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Photos: Winter’s global grip

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  1. Residents of a neighborhood west of downtown London, England, on Monday, Jan. 11, work on breaking up ice to make it easier for vehicles to get through. Across Europe, commuters struggled to get to work on Monday after a weekend of treacherous winter weather left thousands of homes without power and caused mayhem on roads, railways and at airports. (Adrian Dennis / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Ice covers oranges on a tree near Winter Garden, Fla., on Monday. Growers set sprinklers to cover the fruit in ice, aiming to insulate the oranges from freezing temperatures.. Florida saw temperatures below freezing throughout the weekend, endangering the citrus crop. (Matt Stroshane / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Two paramilitary policemen dump snow near the sea in eastern China's Shandong province on Monday. A cold wave has stricken much of China, disrupting transportation and forcing some provinces to ration electricity (Wu Hong / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. A man clears snow from pleasure boats at a park in Madrid, Spain, on Monday. The region was blanketed in snow, shutting down schools the day classes were set to resume after the holiday break. (Paul White / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. A driver tries to navigate a country road Sunday near Elkhorn, Neb. Recent heavy snow has created large drifts across the state. (Dave Weaver / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Snow covers Albaizin, a district of Granada, Spain, on Sunday. (Pepe Marin / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. The top of the Feldberg mountain near Frankfurt, Germany, had an icy crust on Sunday following a heavy snow storm. Heavy snowfall across Europe caused traffic accidents, downed power lines in Poland, halted flights out of southern France and trapped more than 160 people overnight on a frozen highway in Germany. (Michael Probst / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Several hundred people enjoy a snowball fight organized online in Berlin on Sunday. The freezing weather gripping parts of Europe is showing no signs of easing, with warnings the big chill could continue through next week. (Fabrizio Bensch / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. A church gargoyle in Vitoria, Spain, spouts an icicle on Sunday. Many parts of Spain saw freezing temperatures and snow storms. (Alvaro Barrientos / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. A man clears heavy snow outside his home in Altay, China, on Saturday. More than 5,400 people in the area were evacuated due to a strong blizzard. (Shen Qiao / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Icicles hang from a tree in New Orleans, La., on Saturday. (Judi Bottoni / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Motorists try and dig themselves out from a snow bank in Omaha, Neb. Piles of snow have made intersections and side streets difficult to navigate. (Dave Weaver / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. A street is covered by light snow in Paris' Montmartre district, near the Sacre Coeur church, seen in background. Freezing weather is affecting huge areas of Europe and disrupting travel. (Francois Mori / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Motorists try pushing a car as snow falls in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. The freezing weather showed no signs of easing, with warnings the big chill could continue through next week. (Martin Meissner / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. The beak of a swan is covered with snow on the embankment of river Main between Hanau and Frankfurt. (Kai Pfaffenbach / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. A man cleans solar panels covered by snow near Burgos in Spain. (Cesar Manso / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Sheep look for grazing on the Begwn Hills as the temperatures stay below freezing in Hay-On-Wye, U.K. (Stu Forster / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Stuart Davis clears snow from a roof on Friday in Hunting Valley, Ohio. The Weather Service warned of a possible lake effect: arctic air blowing over the Great Lakes, picking up moisture and carrying it inland, creating narrow bands of heavy snow for the state. A winter storm warning is in effect until Saturday morning. (Tony Dejak / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Julian Guy and Tessa Eastman from the Serpentine Swimming Club wade in a hole in the ice made in the Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park on Friday in London, England. Extremely frigid conditions continue to grip the U.K. (Oli Scarff / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. In this image provided by NASA, The British Isles, covered in snow, are seen from NASA's Terra satellite, using a Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) from space. (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. A runner keeps pace along the snow-covered banks of the frozen Spree River in Berlin on Friday. Freezing weather gripped parts of Europe and is showing no signs of easing, with warnings of a big chill through next week. (Pawel Kopczynski / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. A pedestrian is greeted with minus 32 degrees Celcius (-25.6 degree Fahrenheit) in the town of Divnogorsk, south of the Russia's Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk. Severe frost has hit the Krasnoyarsk region for more than two weeks. (Ilya Naymushin / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. South Korean special warfare forces train in the snow during a winter field drill in Pyeonchang, east of Seoul on Friday. (Jung Yeon-je / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. David Sigl rides his bike across a snow covered C.W. Bailey bridge to Covington, KY. on Jan. 7. (Joseph Fuqua Ii / The Enquirer via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Geese stand near a warning sign at a frozen lake in a Nashville, Tenn. park on Jan. 7. While only very light snow fell in Nashville, Arctic air will send low temperatures plunging into the single digits to low teens Friday and Saturday night. (Mark Humphrey / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. Busses are encrusted in ice and snow at the back lot of a bowling alley in the Omaha, Neb., suburb of Elkhorn, where a fire was being put out Thursday. (Nati Harnik / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Jack Hibbard, 5, of Fairfield and his puppy "Trooper" take a ride down the hill at William Harbin Park in Fairfield, Ohio, Thursday. Most Cincinnati area schools are closed because of snow. (Cara Owsley / The Enquirer via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. A snow plow breaks through drifts along a county road Thursday near Lecompton, Kan. (Orlin Wagner / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. A man on crutches makes his way down a deserted snow covered downtown sidewalk on Thursday in Des Moines, Iowa. (Charlie Neibergall / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. Ice forms artistic patterns on the Chicago River Thursday, Jan. 7, in downtown Chicago as the city braces for a fierce winter storm moving through the region. (Kiichiro Sato / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. Mitch Okraszewski, 52, fishes on the shores of Lake Erie Thursday, in Cleveland. Communities across Ohio were preparing for a storm that's expected to coat the state with at least a few inches of snow by the weekend. (Tony Dejak / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. A squirrel eats a nut in the snow beneath a plastic flamingo, Thursday, in Cincinnati. (Al Behrman / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. Icicles form on the exterior of a bowling alley in the Omaha, Neb., suburb of Elkhorn, where a fire was being put out, Thursday. (Nati Harnik / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. Starlings return to roost on the Somerset Levels near Glastonbury on Thursday, Somerset, England. The MET office confirmed that the Christmas period has been the coldest for 25 years with temperatures as low as minus 27 Fahrenheit being recorded. Snow and ice continue to cause problems across the U.K. with many roads and schools remaining closed. (Matt Cardy / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  35. A man covered with hoarfrost is seen after running in Russia's Siberian city of Omsk, on Thursday. Temperatures in Omsk dropped to minus 22 degrees Fahrenheit. (Viktor Gasheyev / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  36. An aerial view shows busy traffic on the crossroad of the A10 and A8 highways near Amsterdam, on Thursday. (Toussaint Kluiters / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  37. Patrcia Drysdale, left, watches as men on community service clear away snow and ice from her path at a sheltered housing complex in Dunfermline, Fife in Scotland on Thursday. When the unprecedented cold spell fell over Britain, the Fife Council started using offenders serving community service sentences to help clear away the snow and ice. (David Moir / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  38. Snow covered bicycles are seen in the center of Amsterdam, Netherlands, on Thursday. The Dutch capital, like much of Britain and northern Europe, is experiencing an unusually long cold snap and heavy snowfall that has caused the worst traffic jams in memory and made roads treacherous for Amsterdam's many bicycle riders. (Margriet Faber / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  39. Icicles hang from a sign on a strawberry farm in Plant City, Fla., on Wednesday. Florida strawberry farmers have been spraying water on their plants throughout the the night to protect them from damage due to the cold weather. (Scott Audette / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  40. A worker picks oranges in a small grove in Merritt Island, Florida on Wednesday. Citrus workers have been hurrying to harvest the fruit before it is damaged by freezing temperatures. (Matt Stroshane / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  41. A stunned iguana lies on the sidewalk after having fallen from a tree Wednesday, in Surfside, Fla. With temperatures in the 40s, iguanas become immobilized and fall from their perches. (Wilfredo Lee / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  42. Graeme Williams, an employee of Legoland, clears snow from model replicas of the London landmark Big Ben and the Westminster area, in Windsor, Berkshire, on Wednesday. Britain braced for more transport chaos as heavy snow and freezing temperatures swept south, one day after gripping northern England and Scotland. (Carl De Souza / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  43. People try to free a vehicle stranded during a snowstorm in the town of Fleet in Hampshire, Britain, on Wednesday. Emergency weather warnings were issued for large parts of central and southern England. Some 16 inches of snow have been forecast in some areas of the south. (Andy Rain / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  44. People enjoy the snow in the Great Park at Windsor Castle in Windsor, southern England. Blizzards swept across central and southern England on Wednesday, bringing more road and rail chaos. Airlines suspended flights and hundreds of schools closed. (Toby Melville / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  45. Girls pull a sled through the snow in Bibury, the Cotswolds, western England. (Eddie Keogh / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  46. Shane Wilkinson drives his team of Siberian Huskies on an early morning training run on a snowy road near Wilton, southern England, on Wednesday. (Cpl Steve Wood Rlc / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  47. A deer is seen silhouetted against snow-covered trees at Bradgate Park in Leicestershire, United Kingdom. (Michael Regan / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  48. Victorian terraced houses and parked vehicles lie under a blanket of snow in Blaydon, northeast England, on Wednesday. Even filming of the venerable television soap opera "Coronation Street" was disrupted by the worst snow and icy weather in Britain in years. (Owen Humphreys / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  49. Local residents practice yoga after a snowfall at a park in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, on Wednesday. (Stringer Shanghai / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  50. A pedestrian walks past a snow-covered and frozen fountain in a public garden in Nantes as winter weather hits western France. (Stephane Mahe / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  51. The chef from a Chinese take-out builds a snowman outside his restaurant in The High Street of Hartley Wintney, 40 miles west of London, on Tuesday. (Adrian Dennis / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  52. A bundled-up pedestrian walks in the snow with temperatures in the low teens on Tuesday in downtown Chicago. (M. Spencer Green / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  53. Ice coats the fishing pier at Edgewater Park in Cleveland as snow falls on Tuesday. Forcasters say that snow will continue throughout the day in northeastern Ohio, parts of which already have two feet or more on the ground. (Mark Duncan / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  54. A man rides a sled bicycle as his sheep follows him on the frozen lake in Beijing, China. The biggest snowfall in nearly 60 years has blanketed Beijing as snow storms hit regions of China. China's Central Meteorological Station has issued an orange alert warning that most areas in north, central and east China would see temperature drops ranging from -8 to -12 degrees Celsius. (Feng Li / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  55. Chickens stand on garden furniture covered in snow in Helperby, northern England on Jan. 5. Freezing conditions and heavy snowfall brought more chaos to the transport network, shutting airports and disrupting train services. (Nigel Roddis / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  56. Krystyna Rudzki removes snow from her car before leaving for work as the weather causes problems in Davenham, north west England. Britain is facing one of the coldest winters in 100 years with conditions causing "widespread, persistent and severe" problems this week, forecasters warned. (Martin Rickett / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  57. A man walks to work in freezing conditions on Jan. 4 in London. Much of the UK is in the grip of freezing weather with snow and ice disrupting transport across the country as people return to work after the Christmas break. (Dan Kitwood / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  58. People go for a walk through the snow beside a lighthouse near the northern German harbour town of Greetsiel. Winter weather continues in Germany with more snowfall forecast and very low temperatures for the next few days. (David Hecker / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  59. Port of Menteith Curling Club members enjoy the crisp weather on Scotland's Lake Menteith. (Andrew Milligan / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  60. A mother and daughter enjoy a sled ride in Berlin, Germany. Subzero temperatures are gripping Germany and are predicted to fall even further later in the week. (Sean Gallup / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  61. Heavy fog in parts of Pakistan, including this view in the city of Sarghodha, disrupted flights, trains and forced authorities to close several roads. Officials expect cold and foggy weather to continue through Jan. 10. (K.M. Chaudary / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  62. Beijing, China, on Jan. 3 saw its heaviest snowfall in nearly 60 years. (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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