Bone-chilling temperatures settle over East

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) -- Bone-chilling cold settled in Thursday from the Midwest to the Northeast Thursday, bringing teeth-chattering misery with temperatures that sank as low as 47 below zero.

In some places, the temperature was the lowest it'd been in years, including Chicago, where it was 11 below zero at O'Hare International Airport Thursday morning. It was the coldest daytime temperature in a more than a decade.

In Pollock, S.D., which dropped to a record-setting 47 below zero, Todd Moser, who works at a gas station, said it took about 10 minutes before the gas pumps started working.

"It just hurts to breathe out there," said Moser, adding that he could only stand it for about five minutes. "After a while your face really just starts to hurt and you've just really got to get back in."

The same subzero temperatures and biting winds that chilled the Northern Plains, Midwest and Great Lakes for most of the week moved into the Northeast Thursday.

Before heading to work as the manager of the bookstore of the University of Maine in Fort Kent, Lucy Beaulieu bundled up in a fur coat, gloves and hat and started her car a half-hour before leaving home to let it warm up.

Her advice for handling the temperature of 32 below zero: "You go to work - and you go home. You don't make any unnecessary stops where you have to get out of your vehicle. You sit on the couch, read a good book, stay inside."

The bitter cold stretched from Montana to Maine and as far south as Georgia, driving people to pile on layers upon layers if they had to go out, and keeping some children home from school. More cold weather was forecast for Friday, when northern Maine was expected to see frosty temperatures between 30 below and 40 below zero.

In northern Maine, a low of 38 below zero was recorded Thursday at Depot Mountain in a sparsely populated area near the border with Canada, and it was 32 below in Fort Kent.

It was cold enough to shut down Vermont's Bolton Valley ski resort and the Big Rock ski area in Mars Hill, Maine. But for many, it was business as usual, although perhaps at a slower pace.

"You pretty much have to grin and bear it. We've been cold before," said Justin Dubois, manager of Quigley's Building Supply in Fort Kent, Maine. "In all honesty, 30 below doesn't seem a lot different from 20 below. They're both very cold."

In Michigan, the temperature in Pellston, in the northern Lower Peninsula, dropped to 25 below zero overnight, while in upstate New York, low temperatures Thursday morning included 2 in Buffalo and 25 below zero in Massena. New York City, where light snow fell overnight, saw lows in the teens.

The extreme cold was especially hard for outdoor workers like Allen Lockrow, who was up before dawn to deliver food and supplies to restaurants around Albany, N.Y.

"You wear a lot of clothes, a T-shirt, four layers of sweat shirts, a fleece and a coat," Lockrow said as he made a delivery. He also wore two pairs of socks under his work boots and ear muffs under his hat.

Weather officials in western New York predicted that Lake Erie will freeze over for the first time in five years within a week.

"It's very early to have this much ice," said Steve McLaughlin, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Buffalo. "About 80 percent of the lake is frozen now, and we haven't seen it freeze totally since the winter of 2003-2004."

The temperature was 29 degrees below zero in Glenwood, Minn., on Thursday morning, with the wind chill making it a staggering 54 degrees below zero. It was 21 degrees below zero in Minneapolis-St. Paul, the coldest reading there since January 2004.

The town of Clinton, Iowa, was that state's frigid spot overnight at 27 below zero. It hit 15 below zero early Thursday in Des Moines, the coldest there since 1996, said Craig Cogil of the National Weather Service.

Across the region, schools in hundreds of communities were closed or started late because of the bitter cold. Akron, Ohio, was one of the cities were schools were closed all day.

In southwest Ohio, Butler County reopened its former jail as an emergency shelter, with room for about 40 people to have a blanket, meal and shower, said Lt. Nick Fischer of the sheriff's office.

The frigid conditions caused complications for highway managers because road salt doesn't melt ice in subzero temperatures.

"Once we get into minus 10, minus 20, in some cases we have to go to just straight sand, a light dusting of sand, on the highway to get some grit, provide some traction," said Mike Flick a transportation worker in Pamelia, N.Y.

The Indiana State Police banned some large trucks from the Indiana Toll Road because of hazardous weather conditions. On Wednesday, two people died in a 20-vehicle pileup in near-blizzard conditions on the Toll Road, and a third person died in a highway crash in Gary. Two people were killed in a highway crash in eastern Indiana Thursday as snowfall caused travel troubles across the state, WTHR-TV reported. There were also at least three crash fatalities in Ohio.

The cold was pushing southward, where even northern Georgia and Kentucky could see single-digit lows by Friday, with zero possible at Lexington, Ky., the weather service warned. Kentucky hasn't been that cold since December 2004.

Homeless shelters in North Carolina prepared for an influx of clients as temperatures plunge below freezing across the state. In mountain areas, wind chills could fall to minus 10 by early Friday, forecasters said. An advisory warned that Georgia may have an overnight wind chill between zero and 5 below zero.

In Cleveland, where it was snowing and 10 degrees at lunchtime Wednesday, Terry Gill, 23, was bundled up with four layers of clothes. He had a secret for staying warm.

"I just try not to think about it," Gill said while waiting for a bus in a shelter surrounded by piles of snow from nearly 17 inches that have fallen in one week. "I mean, it's cold. That's Cleveland weather."


Associated Press writers David Sharp in Portland, Maine; Michael Hill in Albany, N.Y.; and James Hannah in Dayton, Ohio, contributed to this report.


On the Net:

Weather Service warnings:

© 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy.