Bitter cold grips Northeast as new Arctic blast looms

The bitter cold that gripped the snow-covered northern tier from Cleveland to Boston on Friday shows no sign of easing, as another arctic blast roaring out of Canada threatens to drive weekend temperatures to record lows.

The National Weather Service said "dangerously cold temperatures" will slam the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest by Saturday, driving wind chill temperatures in some areas to near -50F.

The combination of arctic air with the gusty winds is expected to lower wind chill temperatures to the single digits over the Mid-Atlantic while areas of New England can expect readings into the -10s and -20s, the NWS said.

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The region is already reeling from Thursday's storm that has shut down airports and major roads and forced school closings in much of the Northeast.

The storm — which brought plummeting temperatures as low as 8 degrees below zero in Burlington, Vt., early Friday with a wind chill of 29 below zero — dumped 23 inches of snow in Boxford, Mass., by early Friday and 18 inches in parts of western New York near Rochester. Ten inches of snow fell in Lakewood, N.J., and up to 7 inches fell in New York City.

Governors in New York and New Jersey declared states of emergency, urging residents to stay at home.

"This is nothing to be trifled with," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. "People should seriously consider staying in their homes."

Strong winds also forced the shut down of JFK International Airport Friday morning.Major highways were also closed in New York and Pennsylvania.

By Friday morning, about 1,500 flights were canceled nationwide, according to the aviation tracking website

The harsh winter storm was the first test for new New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who as public advocate in 2010 criticized his predecessor Mayor Michael Bloomberg for his handling of a large snowstorm.

As soon as snow began falling Thursday night, de Blasio sent hundreds of plows and salt spreaders on the streets.

"If you don't need to go out, please don't go out," de Blasio said at a news conference Thursday evening, urging residents to use mass transit. "Stay off the streets, stay out of your cars."

In suburban Philadelphia, a worker using a backhoe at a salt storage facility was killed when a 100--foot-tall pile of road salt collapse and crushed him.

In parts of New York State, roads were snow-packed and treacherous Friday morning with few drivers venturing out early in the frigid temperatures and wind-whipped snow, The (Westchester County, N.Y.) Journal-Newsreports.

"The roads are sloppy everywhere, but the department of public work crews are out there," said Tuckahoe Police Sgt. David Banks.

The New York State Thruway, closed overnight between Albany and Yonkers, reopened to passenger cars at 5 a.m. Friday but commercial traffic remained banned until 8 a.m. Interstate 84 remained closed to all traffic until 8 a.m.

In Delaware, up to 9.4 inches of snow was reported on the ground in parts of the state and another inch was expected before tapering off Friday morning. A major headache was expected to be drifts caused by northwest winds gusting to 35 mph,The (Wilmington)News-Journalreports.

Wilmington city offices and schools, along with state, and county offices in the area, were closed for the day.

About 100 homeless people found shelter from the storm Thursday night at the Sunday Breakfast Mission in Wilmington, said the Rev. Tom Laymon, president and chief executive officer.

Laymon told the arrivals to "please don't let your friends stay out in this cold." He also urged the public not to ignore homeless people out in the extreme cold.

"Call the police and they'll pick them up and bring them to us," he said. "We don't want anyone dying unnecessarily from the cold."


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