A cold wave that tormented the nation's midsection crept along the Eastern Seaboard today, shattering low-temperature records from New England to the Southeast and forcing a cold-weather emergency declaration in New York.
"I can't take it. You expect this later in the year, but around this time it's usually 40, 45 or 50 degrees," said a newspaper vendor on a windswept corner in Trenton, N.J.
The bitter cold wave, along with a preceding blizzard in the northern Plains, has claimed at least 26 lives in 14 states since Nov. 7.
Temperatures plunged into the 20s, teens and single digits from Maine to the Carolinas and across to Alabama. The blast of Canadian air that set at least 70 records in cities east of the Rocky Mountains on Thursday broke or tied another 55 records in 22 states today.
New York Mayor Edward Koch declared the first cold-weather emergency this season, directing police to take homeless people off the street and ferry them to city shelters.
The frigid temperatures also forced Boston's homeless to city-run and private shelters. Officials at the city's Pine Street Inn shelter for the homeless reported a full house as all 400 beds were filled and 210 more people slept on the floor.
"It was normal--for a January night," said Randy Bailey, Pine Street's assistant director.
A record 21-degree reading at Newark, N.J., was the lowest ever in that city this early in the season, as was a low of 15 degrees at Atlantic City, N.J.
Other record lows included a 16-below-zero reading in Mt. Washington, N.H.; 4 degrees in Caribou, Me.; 5 in Elkins, W.Va., breaking a 66-year-old mark; 18 in Nashville; 10 in Pittsburgh and 32 in Mobile, Ala., the coldest reading ever there on this date.
Forecasters said the cold air mass would push off into the Atlantic Ocean, clearing the way for warmer temperatures over the weekend.