By Sarah Starr

From frozen pipes and higher energy bills to great losses in the farming industry, recent diving temperatures in the Santa Cruz area have been making their effects felt. In the past two weeks temperatures dropped as low as 26 degrees at nighttime and averaged about 58 degrees during the day.

While daytime temperatures have staid in accordance with last year’s data, the nighttime temperatures have dropped well below normal.

According to the National Weather Service (NWS), the coast generally stays warmer and temperatures don’t drop nearly as low as they do in inland areas. Bob Benjamin, an observation program leader at the NWS Forecast Office in Monterey Bay, reports on what the NWS has observed.

"This is an abnormally cold period, with which we saw a short duration," Benjamin said.

One of the biggest threats of the dropping temperatures is the effect the weather has had on California crops. According to the Santa Cruz Sentinel, Central Valley citrus crop losses have been tallied up to almost $1 billion. In Monterey, the self-proclaimed artichoke capitol of the world, 4,000 acres of artichokes have been wiped out by the frosty nights.

Lazzernini Farms at Moss Landing was one of the many affected throughout the Monterey Bay.

"Our farm was definitely affected, with not being able to harvest 40 percent of our crop," Sherri Lazzerrini, co-owner of the farm, said. "There might even be a period with [zero yield]."

In addition to expecting a dramatic cost increase on produce items affected by the cold, students and locals alike are layering up and trying not to rely on the heater quite so much.

Stephanie Kraus, a UC Santa Cruz student living off campus, and her roommates have been taking extra steps to save on costly heating prices.

"For the first couple months of winter we didn’t want to use heating, because it costs so much and uses way too much energy," Kraus said.

"We pile up our beds with about six comforters and fall asleep fully clothed in sweatpants, sweatshirts and fluffy slippers from Costco," Kraus continued.

Houses in the Santa Cruz area aren’t built to withstand below freezing wheather, according to spokespersons from the city of Santa Cruz. Most houses do not have enough insulation and the windows are generally single-paned.

A bigger question has been raised about the causes and factors that are leading us into this abnormal weather pattern. Global warming has become the usual scapegoat for this unusual weather, but jumping to that conclusion may be premature.
"The cold front can neither be attributed to the global warming, nor disregarded," Benjamin said. "More long range study must be done to successfully conclude if it does."