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Snow, Ice Batter East as Winds Freeze Midwest

January 05, 1988|From Times Wire Services

Ice and snow storms snarled traffic, closed schools and ripped down power lines Monday from New England to North Carolina, and high winds surged across the Midwest and plains with icy cold, making temperatures feel as low as 76 below zero.

The East Coast storm piled up snow as far south as North Carolina, where ice-laden power lines were blamed for thousands of power outages.

Schools closed because of slippery roads Monday in parts of Rhode Island, New Hampshire, New York state, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina and Oregon.

The storm spread freezing rain over North Carolina and then rolled up the coast into the Northeast, disrupting Monday's morning rush hour.

N.Y. Traffic Tie-up

Between three and seven inches of wet, heavy snow tied up morning traffic in New York City. The sun came out by late morning, pushing the mercury above freezing, but temperatures were expected to drop back into the teens after dark. Nearly 3,000 sanitation workers were pulled off trash duty to clear streets before the freeze set in.

Snow swept over Philadelphia also, forcing Philadelphia International Airport to close one runway, and airlines reported some delays. Two to four inches of snow was on the ground in the Philadelphia and Washington areas.

Boston's Logan International Airport, clogged with nearly six inches of wind-blown snow, closed for more than two hours during the morning, postponing or canceling about 40 flights, a spokesman said. Six inches of snow caused flight delays at T. F. Green State Airport in Warwick, R. I.

Driving was treacherous throughout Massachusetts.

"It's just car versus guardrail," state police Cpl. Bob McKeon said of the numerous accidents around the state. "The roads are real slick. It was coming down too fast."

Amtrak trains traveling from New York City to Boston were delayed about an hour.

Snow accumulations ranged from two inches in the northern mountains of North Carolina, up to eight inches in eastern Massachusetts and seven inches in Connecticut and Long Island, N. Y.

Ice Knocks Out Power

Ice accumulated from freezing rain had snapped tree limbs and power lines across much of North Carolina on Sunday, knocking out power to an estimated 85,000 customers, including some holiday travelers at Raleigh-Durham Airport.

By Monday, about 20,000 customers in Durham and Chapel Hill were still without power, Anne Scheffield of Duke Power said. As many as 10,000 Wake County customers still had no power Monday, said Roger Hannah of Carolina Power & Light Co.

Temperatures were below zero across Montana, Wyoming, the Dakotas and Minnesota. International Falls, Minn., dipped to 18 below zero, with a wind chill factor of 59 below zero. Wind gusted from 25 to 40 m.p.h. over North Dakota, and the National Weather Service said the wind combined with lows down to 18 below zero to make it feel like 76 below zero in Minot.

Temperatures to Drop More

Other wind chill factors were 70 below at Alexandria, Minn., 64 below zero at Williston, N.D., and Mason City, Iowa, 59 below zero at International Falls, Minn., and 51 below zero at Grand Forks, N.D. Temperatures were expected to drop further Monday night and early Tuesday.

A wind chill factor of 50 below means it is cold enough to freeze exposed flesh in a minute.

Service stations were swamped with calls to revive vehicles that would not start in the bitter cold.

Northern States Power Co. dispatched a crew to Avon, Minn., where 200 customers were without power for about an hour with temperatures at 15 below zero and wind chill factors of 62 below.

The lowest actual temperature in the 48 contiguous states was 29 degrees below zero at West Yellowstone, Mont., the weather service said. In Canada, nearer the source of the frigid air, a low of 35 below zero was reported at La Rouge, Saskatchewan, the weather service said.

The 'Siberian Express'

"The Siberian Express is coming down with temperatures dropping into the teens," said weather service forecaster Walter Zamorski in Newark, N. J.

"The Siberian Express is not an exaggeration. Unseasonably cold weather does come from Siberia, over the North Pole, down through Canada into this country," said Anthony Gigi, another meteorologist in Newark.

"This is as cold an outbreak as we've seen in three or four years," said meteorologist Fred Keyes at the weather service in Ann Arbor, Mich.

And the cold air's advance across Michigan dropped the temperature at Muskegon to 12 degrees, the weather service said.

The cold air was spreading south and east, rolling across Kansas during the day, and lows in the teens were forecast as far south as northern Alabama, the weather service said.

Meanwhile, a fast-moving Pacific storm coated Oregon roads with ice and caused heavy snow in the mountain regions.

Second Surge Due in Texas

Cold weather moved into Texas also, and "behind that is a second surge of even colder air," said meteorologist Ed Delgado. He warned: "All of Texas is going to be cold."

The Salvation Army in Dallas made plans Monday to shelter as many as 1,500 homeless people and provide sleeping bags to those who refuse to come in from the cold.

2,500 at Chicago Shelters

Chicago's Department of Human Service opened two telephone lines for homeless people in need of emergency shelter. The agency said more than 2,500 people used the city's shelters and warming centers each night over the weekend.

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