Friday, January 16, 2009
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 11:00 a.m. PT, Fri., Jan. 16, 2009
CHICAGO - A bone-numbing Arctic blast drove temperatures down Friday to 30, 40 and 50 below in parts of the Midwest and Northeast, closing schools to spare children from freezing at bus stops and prompting police to keep a watchful eye out for the homeless.
Forecasters said temperatures in the upper Midwest could turn into the coldest in years as frigid air keeps spilling south from Canada. The cold snap has claimed at least five lives and contributed to dozens of traffic accidents as vehicles slipped and slid on icy roads.
Scores of schools in Michigan, Iowa, Ohio, Illinois and upstate New York canceled classes for Friday as officials feared it would be dangerous for students to walk to school or wait for buses.
"They're waiting 30 minutes at a bus stop; there's the fear of frostbite and hypothermia," said Champaign Assistant Superintendent Beth Shepperd. "We also have more children walking to school without adequate outerwear."
By Friday morning, cities and towns in 13 states reported temperatures well below zero, among them:
* -50 in Big Black River, Maine, in what could be a new state record
* -46 in Embarrass, Minn.
* -42 in Island Pont, Vt.
* -42 in Necedah, Wis.
* -39 in Berlin, N.H.
* -38 in Monticello, Iowa
* -36 in Sterling, Ill., possibly tying a state record
* -35 in Paradox, N.Y.
* -26 in Stambaugh, Mich.
* -20 in Valparaiso, Ind.
* -19 in Lawton, Pa.
* -16 in Snowshoe Mountain, W.Va.
* -14 in Dayton, Ohio
In upstate New York, meteorologist Dave Sage said areas near Lake Erie were walloped by snow, with 2 inches falling per hour in some areas on Friday morning.
The cold kept many from venturing outdoors. Those who did kept their trips short.
Quentin Masters, who was at the post office mailing a gift in downtown Syracuse, N.Y., said he had on two coats and long underwear.
"It was almost too cold to come down here today but it's a birthday present for my sister in Buffalo," said Masters, 28. "It's on Monday and I don't want it to be late."
Although the temperature in Syracuse was 5 above just after dawn, wind gusts of up to 25 mph chilled the air to subzero temperatures.
This story just reminds my how different it is to live in southern California. Right now it's 78 degrees out here in Huntington Beach. My friend Tabi lives in Kansas and she told me this morning it was -2. I don't think I'd be able to handle that day in and day out =). Well I hope everyone keeps warm and has a safe fun weekend.