2 Weeks Into Spring, It's Feeling A Lot Like Christmas

Sunday, April 8th 2007, 4:51 pm

By: News On 6

ATLANTA (AP) _ An unseasonable cold snap put a chill on Easter Sunday services across the Southeast and much of the rest of the country, moving some events indoors and adding layers over spring frocks.

Even baseball had to take another time out _ because of snow.

Across much of the eastern two-thirds of the nation, Easter celebrants swapped frills, bonnets and sandals for coats, scarves and heavy socks. Baseball fans huddled in blankets and, instead of spring planting, backyard gardeners were bundling their crops.

Two weeks into spring, Easter morning temperatures were in the upper 30s along the Gulf Coast and in the single digits in northern Minnesota and the Dakotas. Atlanta had a low of 30 degrees, with a wind chill of 23, the National Weather Service said. The same reading hit New York City's Fifth Avenue, celebrated in song for the traditional Easter Parade of spring finery.

Despite the chill, nearly 1,000 people attended the annual sunrise service at Georgia's Stone Mountain Park, as a slight breeze whipped over the granite monument. The service usually attracts 10,000.

Later in the afternoon, about 5,000 people braved the wind and chill in Homer, a small town in the foothills of the north Georgia mountains that claims one of the nation's largest Easter egg hunts.

``We've had cold weather before, but this might have been the coldest,'' said Sandra Garrison, whose family hid more than 100,000 plastic eggs on their farm, continuing a 48-year tradition. ``They had their coats on for sure.''

Nashville, Tenn., bottomed out Sunday at 23 degrees, knocking one degree off the Easter Sunday record set March 24, 1940.

East of Cleveland in the city of Chardon, about 16 inches of snow has fallen, and forecasters predicted the region could get another 10 inches before the storms tapered off late Sunday. Temperatures were expected to remain unseasonably cold through much of the week.

The Cleveland Indians tried all weekend to kick off their series against the Seattle Mariners, but were stymied when the weather forced Friday's home opener and subsequent double headers on Saturday and Sunday to be postponed.

Officials in Morrison, Colo., canceled Sunday's annual sunrise service at the Red Rocks Amphitheater because seats and stairways were covered with ice.

Morning lows in Columbia, S.C., dropped to the upper 20s, the weather service said. The usual courtyard service at Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church in Columbia had to be moved indoors, the Rev. Michael Bingham said.

``Our musicians are worried about their fingers,'' he said Saturday as the church's plans were being changed.

Farmers were worried about the impact the weather could have on crops. Blueberries could be particularly affected, said Stanley Scarborough, production manager of Sunnyridge Farms, which has fields in Baxley and Homerville, Ga.

Scarborough said the majority of the state's blueberry crop, a variety called rabbit-eye, is normally harvested around June 1. This year, the bushes bloomed early because of a wave of warm temperatures last week. Scarborough the blueberries are not able to withstand freezing temperatures.

``At 26 or 27 degrees, you would probably lose half of the Georgia crop,'' valued at about $20 million to $25 million dollars, Scarborough said.

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