U.S. News

Bitter cold lashes Northeast states

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Dangerously cold temperatures whipped the Northeast on Monday, keeping the mercury well below zero in much of the region, forecasters said.

The National Weather Service put wind chill advisories in effect in northern and northeastern Pennsylvania, northern Connecticut, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and northeastern and southeastern Massachusetts, including Boston and Cape Cod.

With wind chill factored in, the temperatures were “dangerously” cold, hitting 25 to 30 degrees below in some areas, it said.

“A wind chill advisory is issued when the wind chill index is likely to reach -15 to -24 degrees for at least 3 hours,” it said, adding, “Frostbite can develop in just 30 minutes with a wind chill index of -20.”

The cold weather forced suspension of Amtrak’s Empire Service trains between New York City and Albany, Amtrak said.

“The sub-zero temperatures have caused some signals, switches and equipment to freeze,” it said, adding that some alternate bus transportation was being provided.

Overnight, the mercury dipped to minus 36 degrees in Saranac Lake, New York, the Weather Service said.

The temperature was well below zero in Vermont at mid-morning, at minus 10 in Burlington and minus 9 in Rutland, it said.

Shelburne Falls, Mass., where it hit a near record minus -18 overnight, streets downtown were nearly empty due to the bone-chilling weather.

Diana Mitchell, a native of England who works for a natural food store cooperative, said it took her a long time to get accustomed to New England winters.

“In my room, it was 15 degrees last night,” she said.

Dozens of schools in southwestern Pennsylvania announced two-hour delayed openings due to the frigid temperatures.

In Pittsburgh, Melissa Katz, a home care worker, said the bitter cold had driven up her fuel bill but that she was used to the chill.

“I’ve lived in Pittsburgh my whole life. It’s always like this,” she said. “For as cold as it is, it’s not that cold.”

A significant storm was headed to the Atlantic Coast by Wednesday, according to The Weather Channel.

The storm was building off the coast of Texas on Monday morning, likely to bring rain to the South on Tuesday and a mix of rain and snow on Wednesday to the mid-Atlantic and Northeast on Wednesday, it said on its web site.

Additional reporting by Zach Howard in Conway, Mass., and Daniel Lovering in Pittsburgh; editing by Greg McCune