US in grip of bitter cold

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NEW YORK, Jan 21 (APP):Bone-chilling cold has set in after a major winter storm blanketed a wide swath of the US in snow, sleet and rain this weekend, creating dangerously icy conditions, making travel challenging on Monday’s holiday in memory of American civil rights leader Martin Luther King.

Some of the coldest temperatures felt so far this season started to set in across the Midwest and Northeast and are expected to plunge further overnight.
Wind chills will bring temperatures into teens in the New York City area and down to minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 4.4 degrees Celsius) in upstate New York, the National Weather Service predicted.
“It’s life-threatening,” Ray O’Keefe, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albany, said. “These are dangerous conditions that we’re going to be in and they’re prolonged, right through tomorrow.”
The freeze will follow the weekend’s run-ins with power outages, canceled trains and planes, overnight stays at the airport and traffic jams.
Local officials warned residents to limit their time outside to prevent frostbite and to avoid treacherous travel conditions. They also said places could see strong wind gusts, flooding and further power outages.
Utilities in the state of Connecticut reported more than 20,000 customers without power by Sunday afternoon.
“We had more freezing rain and sleet than we expected,” Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said Sunday as public works crews across the state raced to clear and treat major roadways before dangerous black ice could form.
Amtrak canceled trains across the Midwest and Northeast over the weekend, but resumed full service Monday. Boston’s transit system urged commuters to allow 10 to 15 minutes of extra travel time and warned of icy conditions for pedestrians come Monday.
The storm — caused by the clash of an Arctic high-pressure system with a low-pressure system coming through the Ohio Valley — wreaked havoc on air travel and other forms of transportation all weekend.
More than 1,500 flights were canceled nationwide Sunday, according to FlightAware, a flight tracking company.
Among the hardest hit was Boston’s Logan Airport, where stranded passengers lingered Sunday as typically bustling security lines, ticketing counters and baggage claims were largely deserted.
Xavi Ortega, a 32-year old engineer from Spain, said he and his wife slept overnight at the airport after their Saturday night flight home to Barcelona was canceled. He said the couple hoped to board a flight Sunday night.
A ferry service route across Lake Champlain between Vermont and New York was also closed Sunday and flights were mostly cancelled at major airports in Vermont and New Hampshire.
In the Midwest, where it dumped 10 inches (25 centimeters) of snow in parts, the storm caused a plane to skid on a slick runway at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on Saturday, though no injuries were reported.
In Kansas, a snowplow driver was killed when his vehicle rolled over, and in southeastern Missouri, slippery conditions caused a 15-vehicle crash on Interstate 55 on Saturday.
One saving grace of the storm: heavily populated coastal communities from New York to Boston largely escaped major snowfall after days of sometimes dire predictions.
Manhattan saw mostly rain while places along Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts’ coast recorded 2 to 5 inches (5 to 13 centimeters) of snow.
US President Donald Trump urged Americans affected by the winter storm to “be careful” in a tweet on Sunday. But, as he’s done in the past, Trump conflated the short-term weather phenomenon with longer-term climate change.
The White House’s own National Climate Assessment recently rejected the idea that a particular plunge in temperatures can cast uncertainty on whether Earth is warming.
“Amazing how big this system is,” Trump tweeted. “Wouldn’t be bad to have a little of that good old fashioned Global Warming right now!”