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Numbing Cold Hits From Montana to New Orleans

February 05, 1989|From Times Wire Services

The Arctic cold wave that shocked even Alaska moved far enough south Saturday to chill Mardi Gras revelers and coat highways in southern Texas with ice. Blowing snow and temperatures as low as 50 degrees below zero hampered travel in the northern Rockies and Plains, and shattered or tied low-temperature records in more than a score of Western cities.

At least 23 deaths around the nation were blamed on the cold, including four in sledding accidents. In Houston, a man was killed early Saturday in a 17-vehicle chain-reaction accident on an icy freeway.

Record lows for the date Saturday included 7 degrees at Seattle; 33 below zero at Great Falls, Mont.; 29 below at Duluth, Minn., and 22 below at Billings, Mont. Records also were set as far south as Texas, with a low of 4 at Lubbock and 16 at Wichita Falls.

But the coldest official reading in the Lower 48 states was 50 below zero at Wisdom, Mont., the weather service said, followed by 44 below at Butte. By contrast, Anchorage, Alaska, had a low of 12 below.

The cold wave extended to the Gulf Coast and to the East Coast. Boston reported 18 degrees at mid-afternoon. The high temperature was 30 in New York City and 32 at Washington.

In New Orleans, thousands of Mardi Gras party-goers bundled up Saturday against a suddenly cold Carnival weekend.

At Beaver Creek, Colo., the premiere event of the World Alpine Ski Championships, the men's downhill, was canceled Saturday because heavy snow made it impossible for crews to groom the course.

Four people driving from Laramie, Wyo., to Ft. Collins, Colo., were rescued from a snowbank Saturday by crewmen of a Union Pacific Railroad freight train, who put them aboard their locomotive near Tie Siding, Wyo.

Most of 200 travelers stalled in the Idaho town of Dubois when the cold front hit Wednesday made it out in two caravans.

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