Record-shattering cold freezes US

Stiff breezes expected to create dangerously cold wind chills

NEW YORK: Two women take a selfie photo in front of a frozen fountain in Bryant Park on a frigid day in Manhattan. —AFP

ORLANDO: Record-shattering arctic cold reached as far south as Florida on Monday with freeze warnings in place from Texas to the Atlantic Coast and the Northeastern United States facing another cold wave at the end of the week, forecasters said. Temperatures ranged from 20 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit (11 to 17 degrees Celsius) below normal across the United States east of the Rocky Mountains, with only southern Florida untouched by the arctic blast.

“That degree of cold will be with us until tomorrow,” said Brian Hurley, a National Weather Service meteorologist at College Park, Maryland. “Tuesday morning, we’re looking at temperatures with very high probability of record lows.” Along Alabama’s Gulf Coast, the temperature in the city of Mobile could hit a low of 16 F (minus 9 C) overnight. Stiff breezes were expected to create dangerously cold wind chills across southeastern Georgia and most of northeastern Florida, the weather service said.

Michael Kimberl, co-founder of Sean’s Outpost, an encampment for homeless people in Pensacola, Florida, said he was handing out propane fuel and extra blankets to residents. “Our community is very unequipped for weather of this type,” he said by phone. Homeless shelters were also making special accommodations, including one site available for women and children, he said.

The mass of frigid air pumped south by a dip in the jet stream sent temperatures plunging across the US heartland. Omaha, Nebraska, posted a low of minus 20 F (minus 29 C), breaking a 130-year-old record, and Aberdeen, South Dakota, shattered a record set in 1919 with a temperature of minus 32 F (minus 36 C). The cold will be unrelenting across the Middle Atlantic and Northeastern United States, with up to two dozen low-temperature records expected in those regions over the next day or two, Hurley said.

Although the cold should ease across most of the United States after Tuesday, the northeastern quarter of the country will see a repeat of the frigid temperatures from Thursday to Friday as another arctic blast hits the area. The private AccuWeather forecaster said the cold snap could combine with a storm brewing off the Bahamas to bring snow and high winds to much of the Eastern Seaboard as it heads north today and tomorrow. The only part of the United States spared the deep freeze is the Southwest, with above-normal temperatures and dry weather expected to linger there, the weather service said.

Deep freeze keeps grip on east

The record-shattering Arctic freeze kept its grip on much of the United States east of the Rocky Mountains yesterday but temperatures everywhere except the Northeast were expected to warm within 24 hours. Many school districts shut their classrooms due to the cold snap, which claimed four lives over the long New Year’s weekend.

The National Weather Service issued wind chill warnings for Tuesday as dangerously low temperatures were due from eastern Montana across the Midwest into the Atlantic coast and the Northeast and down through the deep South. School districts in Iowa, Massachusetts, Indiana, Ohio and North Carolina canceled or delayed the start of classes as bitterly cold temperatures, 20 degrees to 30 degrees Fahrenheit (11 to 17 degrees Celsius) below normal, were expected across the eastern half of the United States.

“Just the bitter cold which is just too dangerous to put kids out on the street waiting for a bus that may not come,” Herb Levine, superintendent of the Peabody Public Schools, north of Boston, told a local CBS affiliate television station. The cold was blamed for the deaths of two men in separate incidents in Milwaukee, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. A homeless man was found dead on a porch in Charleston, West Virginia, while another man was found dead outside a church in Detroit and police said he may have froze to death, local news outlets reported. Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser urged residents to call the city if they saw people outside. “We want every resident to have shelter and warmth,” she said in a tweet. – Reuters

This article was published on 02/01/2018