Winter storm damages trees, crops and cancels plans

January Weather

PALM DESERT, Calif. - The burst of winter weather is leaving a path of damage as it moves through the Coachella Valley.  Freezing overnight temperatures have many farmers worried about the consequences of the storm. 

Gusty winds shook crops in the east valley as Adrian Zendejas, general manager of Desert Mist Farms, assessed the damage and prepared his fields for a night of freezing temperatures.  "First of all, the wind that we're getting now, it sucks the moisture out of the plant, and when the cold weather comes in, it really dings the crop," said Zendejas.

In an effort to prevent their plants from drying out, some farmers place bags over their crops to keep the cold out, and the moisture in.  It's a far cry from the warm start to a 2013 that brought farmers an early season. "It's really going to slow down the growth process, our crops will be anywhere from seven to fourteen days behind schedule so there's going to be a gap there," said Zendejas.

The gap puts a strain on produce like artichokes, bell peppers, and lettuce from making it to our grocery stores.  That's where the cold could hit your wallet.  "There's going to be less product out there, so there's going to be a higher demand and probably an increase in the prices," said Zendejas.

The winter weather also took its toll on some trees in the valley.  Strong winds knocked this tree onto a car at the Indio courthouse. No one was injured, but it served as a reminder of how quickly things can change.

"I never thought anything of my car being parked over here, if I had I would have come and got it I guess," said Roy Housden, the owner of the car.  "But I mean what can I say Mother Nature took over." 

Mother Nature also got in the way of more than one thousand RV enthusiasts, like Joyce Haupt. The wind forced them to cancel a parade scheduled to kick off their annual conference in Indio.  "Well, today was different from the rest of them, because it was so windy," said Haupt. "We were supposed to have a big parade today, but we had to cancel it until Saturday."

Despite the inclement weather, Haupt chose to find the silver living in the clouds. "You know, you have to roll with the punches, when you're RV'ers, you run into that all the time, you can't second guess it."

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