Bitter cold, high winds chill Midwest, East

By: AP
By: AP

CHICAGO (AP) -- Bone-numbing cold spread Monday from the Midwest to the East, forcing millions to bundle up and scurry from place to place in a bid to spend as little time as possible outside.

"It's so cold, it feels like needles are pricking my eyes," grumbled 19-year-old Ashley Sarpong of Chicago, a fur-lined hood pulled around her face Sunday as she crossed a wind-swept bridge that crossed the Chicago River. "This is the coldest I've felt all year."

Snowfall was scant after the subzero air mass rolled in, but ice and high wind whipped up snow along roadways and made driving hazardous for holiday travelers. The cold was less severe Monday, the second day of winter, but temperatures in Chicago were expected to get only into the single digits.

Monday morning commuters in Dayton, Ohio, were greeted with zero-degree temperatures, the National Weather Service reported. It was in the single digits in Toledo, Cincinnati and Columbus. In Pittsburgh, schools were initially to open two hours late, but were closed for the day instead because of below-zero wind chills.

At kickoff in Cleveland for the Browns-Bengals football game Sunday, the temperature was 18 degrees with winds up to 40 mph. Temperatures dipped to minus-6 degrees in two Iowa cities, with wind gusts of 40 mph that made it feel like 35 below zero in areas.

The gusty winds and cold also added to power-outage headaches, with more than 4,000 Ameren customers and more than 3,000 ComEd customers without power as of Monday morning. In northwest Ohio, about 5,000 homes were without power.

In western New York, a 134-mile stretch of the state Thruway between Buffalo and Pennsylvania reopened around 8 a.m. Monday after being closed for about six hours because of blowing snow.

Indiana State Police said weather was a factor Sunday night when a car spun out of control on an icy toll road near New Carlisle, crossed the median and was struck by a semitrailer. All four people in the car were killed.

In southwestern Michigan, about 30 vehicles were involved in a deadly series of pileups on a six-mile stretch of Interstate 94 north of Stevensville, about 175 miles west of Detroit. An Illinois doctor died when his car slammed into a semi-truck that had stopped on the highway in whiteout conditions.

Flights were canceled and delayed Sunday at airports on both coasts. Hundreds of travelers were stranded at airports in Phoenix; Seattle-Tacoma, Wash.; and Arlington, Va.

"There was a lot of people sleeping on the floor, it was a hard cold floor, and the doors kept opening," Rebecca Gray, 30, of South Berwick, Maine, said Monday morning from Reagan National Airport, where she spent the night with about 250 other people including her 3-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son. "There were babies last night sleeping out there. Women and children shouldn't have been left like that while people said it's not our problem and went home.'"

Social service workers in Chicago conducted well-being checks and hosted more than 100 people in an overnight warming center. About 17 South Side residents had to be evacuated from their apartment building into the cold early Monday after an alarm sound indicating high carbon monoxide levels there.

The winter blast continued in the Pacific Northwest. In Seattle, the National Weather Service was predicting up to 4 inches more by the Monday morning commute - a lot in a city with few plows and hilly streets.

The heavy snow was believed to have caused the collapse of a large tent over a temporary ice-skating rink in Bellevue, Wash., briefly trapping some of the 10 people inside and slightly injuring one girl. Snow was also suspected in the collapse of an unoccupied building housing a storage business in rural Waitsburg in eastern Washington.

Arizona's third storm in a week was expected to roll in Monday afternoon, bringing up to 10 inches of snow to higher elevations and rain in Phoenix.

Authorities in Boston, no stranger to chilly weather, canceled public schools Monday and Tuesday in the face of an overnight freeze and wind gusts of up to 50 mph.

In North Dakota, the National Weather Service said Bismarck was on track to break a 1916 record for snowfall in December. The city has had 19 inches of snow so far this month, and with 4 more expected Monday night, the record of 21.7 inches could be shattered.

But things are looking up: The days are getting longer.


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