Image: Dead fish
J Pat Carter  /  AP
These dead fish, a few of the 100,000 cichlids killed by the freezing cold at a fish farm in Loxahatchee, Fla., float in one of the 70 ponds there on Sunday.
updated 1/11/2010 8:02:20 AM ET 2010-01-11T13:02:20

Freakish cold weather continued to grip the South, with snow flurries spotted around Orlando and a record low set for Miami, and forecasters said Sunday that more of the same was expected.

About 100,000 tropical fish being raised on a fish farm in South Florida couldn't bear the cold. Michael Breen, 43, who owns Breen Acres Aquatics in the small town of Loxahatchee Groves just north of Miami, said temperatures dropped below 30 degrees overnight, leaving ice on his 76 ponds.

The ponds should be green because of algae bloom that feeds baby fish, he said.

"But all the ponds are crystal clear and fish are laying on the bottom. What we see on the surface died two days ago," he said, referring to the dead fish found floating Sunday morning.

Breen estimated he lost $535,000 in business because of the cold.

Breen said his Florida town, which raises everything from tropical birds and fish to organic produce and palm trees, was holding on to the little that was left from the cold.

"Everybody is just wiped out. It's that bad," he said.

Freeze warning overnight
The National Weather Service issued a hard freeze warning for South Florida from Sunday night to Monday morning. A freeze watch will continue through Tuesday. Northern Florida residents will feel temperatures drop to the lower 20s and mid-teens.

Video: Looking ahead On Saturday night, a temperature of 35 degrees set a record that had stood since 1970, said Joel Rothfuss with the National Weather Service in Miami.

He said a record low of 37 on Monday, which was set in 1927, could also be broken, with the forecast saying it would drop to 35 degrees again.

For the first time in at least 30 years, Miami Metrozoo shut its doors because it was too cold. Atlanta's zoo was closed because the trails were iced over, officials said. Temperatures in Atlanta stayed in the 30s over the weekend with lows in the teens. The average high for Atlanta is in the 50s with lows in the 30s.

The start of the Walt Disney World Marathon in Orlando was 28 degrees before dawn, though it climbed into the 40s by late afternoon. Average highs in the central Florida city this time of year are in the lows 70s.

5 die in ice accidents
In a suburb north of Atlanta, two teens died Saturday after falling through the ice on a partially frozen pond. The surviving teen was in stable condition at a hospital, said Gwinnett County Fire and Emergency Services Capt. Tommy Rutledge. He said the three, ages 13 to 15, were playing and sliding on the semi-frozen pond when the ice broke.

"I'm sure that that frozen over pond was probably enticing to the kids," he said.

Slideshow: Winter’s global grip

Ice does not freeze uniformly with some spots only an inch thick, he said. They had been warning children to stay off frozen-over ponds, he said.

In Vermont, state police said a snowmobiling accident on a partially frozen lake killed three people Saturday, including a 3-year-old girl.

Police say three snowmobiles carrying a total of six people went through ice on Lake Dunmore near Salisbury at around noon Saturday. Killed were: 50-year-old Kevin Flynn, of Whiting; 24-year-old Carrie Flynn, of Whiting; and 3-year-old Bryanna Popp.

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Video: Deep freeze

  1. Closed captioning of: Deep freeze

    >>> good morning, everybody, we begin with the record-breaking cold sweeping across the nation, during the night, falling temperatures broke records in no fewer than eight cities in florida. heightening concerns about crops and about food prices. we've got nbc's ron mott in atlanta this morning with details. hey ron, good morning.

    >> reporter: in a city nicknamed hot atlantaa scenes like this one don't do much for that reputation. it's been frigid here for the better part of a week, the longest cold snap since 1982 . and this big chill is getting costly. in florida this weekend, farmers like carl grooms had a lot of frozen fruit on their hands. and a disturbing crunch under their feet. as temperatures continued to plummet overnight. threatening to wipe out crops and the profits that come with them.

    >> if you're a farmer, you need to deal with the elements. and this is one of them. i wish she'd be a little kind to us right now and put a warm hand down this way.

    >> reporter: that's why grooms is running the sprinklers, using ice as an insulator. much of the nation is gripped by a deep freeze, frigid arctic air and wintry weather wreaking havoc.

    >> the wind chill , it is just painful.

    >> reporter: from brisk winds in the pacific northwest , to record snowfall around milwaukee.

    >> look out!

    >> reporter: to bumper cars in atlanta .

    >> you watch one, there's another one, there's another one.

    >> reporter: to a pair of teens drowning after falling through thin ice on a georgia lake. and keeping warm through it all will be pricey, especially in the northeast. home heating oil is up $1 a gallon over last year.

    >> the winter weather conditions have come early. they've come hard. and they're the absolutely perfect elements for driving heating bills higher.

    >> reporter: winter delivering a wallop, just about everywhere you look. now fortunately here in atlanta we're getting a warmup, above freezing. but, ann, if you can believe it, there's a slight chance for snow flurries tomorrow.


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