After snow, U.S. Midwest, Northeast brace for potential record cold

NEW YORK Sat Jan 4, 2014 11:51am EST

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NEW YORK Jan 4 (Reuters) - Frigid temperatures gripped a wide swath of the U.S. Midwest and Northeast on Saturday, as the regions dug out from a deadly snow storm and braced for another blast of dangerous winter weather.

A new round of Arctic air will bring potentially record low temperatures in areas from Montana to Michigan starting this weekend, with the extremely cold air pushing eastward and blanketing the Northeast by early Tuesday, said Bob Oravec, a forecaster with the National Weather Service.

Blizzard conditions are expected in the Central Plains and Great Lakes regions, Oravec said.

Pittsburgh could see temperatures about 11 degrees below zero Fahrenheit (minus 24 Celsius) by the early hours of Tuesday. Chicago could be about negative 20 (minus 29 Celsius), he said.

"Incredibly, it may feel as cold as negative 50 to negative 60 (minus 45 to minus 51 Celsius) on Sunday night over sections of the north-central states," the National Weather Service said. In those conditions, frost bite can set in on exposed skin within five minutes, forecasters warned.

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton has ordered all public schools in the state closed on Monday to protect children from dangerously cold weather.

Chicago schools will be open Monday despite the cold but officials, in a statement, advised parents to "use their own discretion in deciding whether to send their child to school."

The storm comes on the heels of a massive winter weather system that slammed the Midwest and northeastern United States just after New Year's Day, causing several deaths, grounding thousands of flights and forcing the closure of schools and government offices.

Snow and icy conditions have snarled air travel in recent days, and on Saturday delays and cancellations continued to cause headaches for travelers.

A total of 993 flights had been canceled across the United States and 4,211 flights were delayed, with Chicago's O'Hare International Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey among the hardest-hit, according to tracking firm FlightAware.com.

Airlines canceled more than 180 flights at O'Hare on Saturday, according to the airport.

Molly Cox, who was in New York City for New Year's Eve, said she missed her Friday night flight home to Denver because LaGuardia Airport was "a disaster."

"I was told I wouldn't be able to get a flight out until Sunday," she said. "With all the cancellations, all of the airlines seem to be having this kind of chaos."

BOSTON HIT HARD

Boston was especially hard-hit by the first major storm of 2014, logging about 18 inches (45 cm) of snow on Friday, while some towns north of New England's largest city saw close to 2 feet (60 cm) of accumulation.

Police and the National Guard rescued 10 people from five beachside houses in Duxbury, Massachusetts, where flooding occurred, according to the Boston Globe.

But life has begun to return to normal in Boston. The city lifted its snow emergency at 5 p.m. on Friday.

Richard Walsh, a spokesman for Massport, the agency that operates Boston's Logan International Airport, said the airfield was clear on Saturday morning.

"The airlines are back on their schedules" and were busy "accommodating passengers affected by the storm," he said.

New York City got about 7 inches (18 cm) and was slammed with overnight air temperatures hovering under the freezing mark.

Firefighters at a massive lumber warehouse blaze in Brooklyn early on Saturday encountered several frozen hydrants, said a spokesman with the New York Fire Department.

Washington received more than 2 inches (5 cm) of snow in the storm, Philadelphia roughly 5 inches (13 cm) and Hartford 7 inches (18 cm). (U.S. snowfall: link.reuters.com/zym75v)

Connecticut woke Saturday to record low temperatures in some areas, marking negative 9 degrees Fahrenheit (negative 23 Celsius) at Bradley International Airport.

Plows and salt spreaders were deployed across East Coast cities to try and clear roads, but freezing temperatures overnight left many streets an icy slick.

WEATHER-RELATED DEATHS

The weather was a factor in several deaths and hundreds of reported road accidents. A 22-year-old man in Connecticut died on Friday when his car slammed a Department of Transportation truck, state police said. In Ohio, authorities say at least two people were killed on Thursday in weather-related crashes.

A Philadelphia city worker was killed after a machine he was using was crushed by a mound of rock salt on Thursday, according to local media.

In Green Bay, Wisconsin, the temperature plummeted to -18 degrees Fahrenheit (-28 C) on Friday, breaking a record for the date set in 1979, according to the National Weather Service.

With the new frigid air moving in, a National Football League wild card playoff game between the Green Bay Packers and the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday at Green Bay's Lambeau Field was expected to rank among the coldest matches on record, local officials said.

Some 40,000 tickets to the game have been sold, according to the Packers team. (Additional reporting by David Jones in Newark, New Jersey, Daniel Lovering in Boston and Dave Warner in Philadelphia; Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Nick Zieminski)

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