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South, East Brace for Polar Temps, Wind Chills

January 7, 2014
frost on window
  

By RICK CALLAHAN, Associated Press


Frigid air that snapped decades-old records will make venturing outside dangerous for a second straight day Tuesday, this time spreading to southern and eastern parts of the U.S. and keeping many schools and businesses shuttered. Residents driven from their homes by power outages in the Midwest longed to return to their own beds.

Watch AgDay team coverage of the Arctic blast:

Monday's subzero temperatures broke records for the date in Chicago, at minus 16, and Fort Wayne, Ind., where the mercury fell to 13 below. Records also fell in Oklahoma and Texas, and wind chills across the region were 40 below and colder. Officials in Indiana, already struggling with high winds and more than a foot of snow, urged residents to stay home.

"The cold is the real killer here," Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard said Monday as he asked schools and businesses to remain closed for another day. "In 10 minutes you could be dead without the proper clothes."

The polar air started to invade the East and South on Tuesday.

Watch the AgDay national weather forecast:

A blizzard smothered western New York with up to 18 inches of snow and wind gusts of up to 50 mph in places. As much as 3 feet of snow could fall there by the time the storm eases Wednesday.

Temperatures meanwhile plunged to 8 degrees in Atlanta and 6 degrees below zero at a remote weather station in the north Georgia mountains — the coldest it has been there for decades. Temperatures hit lows in parts of West Virginia not felt for 25 years, while the extreme cold in Virginia beat records that had stood since the late 1950s. The National Weather Service said the mercury bottomed out at 3 degrees before sunrise at Baltimore-Washington Thurgood Marshal International Airport, with a wind chill of minus 16.

Highs in the single digits were expected in Georgia and Alabama, and wind chill warnings stretched as far south as Florida with dangerous winds as low as 40 below expected in Ohio.

Jeffery Oldham Jr., a mechanic at a truck stop on I-70 near Hagerstown, Md., wore a camouflage cap, hunting gloves, double layers of clothing and a heavy parka. He said he was trying to go inside every 15 minutes to warm up, and that mending a fuel pump took seven or eight minutes.

"Long enough to feel like my face was going to freeze," Oldham said, adding "It wouldn't be too bad out if it wasn't for the wind."

Lynn Palmer, of Alexandria, Va., was commuting by Metro bus and train Tuesday to reach her job as an administrative officer at a nonprofit in Washington, D.C. She said she bundled up in layers but still faced extreme cold while waiting for a bus.

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