Deep Freeze Strikes Northeast

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Temperatures dropped well below zero Saturday across the Northeast, making it the coldest day in a decade for some cities and keeping all but the hardiest people indoors.

St. Johnsbury, Vt., led the list of records Saturday with a low of 27 below zero, the National Weather Service said. Unofficially, Saranac Lake, N.Y., reported 34 below.

Boston's Logan International Airport recorded a low of 3 below zero, two degrees chillier than the previous record for Jan. 10, set in 1875. It was the city's coldest day since Jan. 16, 1994, when thermometers registered 4 below.

As he stood on a street corner Saturday, Jim Konda said that since moving from Alabama 20 years ago, he has "learned about layers."

Jeff Davis, 24, hurrying to work Saturday in downtown Boston, longed for San Diego. That city's forecast high Saturday: 69 degrees.

Record numbers of motorists - about 1,000 an hour in eastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island- called the American Automobile Association of Southern New England to jump start their dead car batteries Saturday morning, said spokesman Art Kinsman.

The wind made the cold snap feel even colder - from minus 15 to minus 25 degrees in parts of Massachusetts.

That didn't stop thousands of football fans from gathering at tailgating parties in a frigid parking lot in Foxboro, Mass., hours before kickoff for the NFL playoff game between the Tennessee Titans and New England Patriots. The temperature at kickoff was 4 degrees, 10 below zero with the wind chill.

"What cold?" quipped Dave Tomes of Londonderry, N.H., outfitted for the game with a ski parka, ski pants and thermal underwear.

Gillette Stadium had doctors and nurses on hand to respond to emergencies, and the Patriots alerted fans that they would be allowed to bring in normally banned blankets and sleeping bags. The team also gave out free coffee, and for the first 10,000 arrivals, free handwarmers.

"One fan called me and said he wouldn't be happy if the temperature wasn't below five degrees," Patriots spokesman Stacey James said. "He wanted to be part of the record."

Other record lows included 19 below zero at Montpelier, Vt.; 16 below at Syracuse, N.Y.; 7 below at Scranton, Pa.; and 2 below at Bridgeport, Conn., according to the National Weather Service.

"It's cold - what people in New Hampshire told me I should call 'crisp,'" Democrat presidential hopeful Wesley Clark joked Saturday morning in Milford, N.H., where the temperature was 6 below zero. "When we had weather that's even somewhat similar to this down in Arkansas, we always took a holiday. We closed things down and went sledding."

Rochester, N.Y., had its coldest morning since Jan. 16, 1994, with a record 12 below zero. New York City's LaGuardia and Kennedy airports also set records for the day, but only at 2 degrees above zero.

Atop New Hampshire's Mount Washington, elevation 6,288 feet, the Web site for the Mount Washington Observatory reported a low of 29 below, an improvement from the reading of 38 below posted late Friday.

By comparison, Chicago was almost mild Saturday morning with a temperature of 19, up from Tuesday's low of 5 below zero.

"For Chicago, it's not too bad," Chicago resident Kevin Hail said as he walked to the train station. "I've been here since 1986, and Lord, I've seen some cold weather." Extended Web Coverage

Preparing for Cold Weather

  • Be alert to weather changes

    Pay close attention to weather changes, especially when the temperature falls quickly within a short period of time.

  • Put on adequate clothing

    Put on dry, light and comfortable clothes that are good for keeping warm. Do not put on clothes that are too bulky, and do not dress too tightly, which may restrict blood circulation or hinder body movements. Be sure to keep the head, neck, hands and feet warm.

  • Sufficient food and drink

    Eat and drink hot and easily digestible food and beverages with higher calories, like hot milk, soup, noodles and rice. Alcohol is not a good means for keeping warm. Although one feels warm immediately after drinking alcohol, it actually accelerates the loss of body heat, as alcohol dilates blood vessels.

  • Keep your home warm

    Keep your home warm, but well ventilated. To keep out drafts, repair cracks in windows, doors and walls. When using electric heaters, make sure there is indoor ventilation. Do not overload the electrical sockets which could overheat and lead to fire or burn injuries.


What is hypothermia?

  • Hypothermia occurs when your body's control mechanisms fail to maintain a normal body temperature.

  • Normal core body temperature can range between 98.9 F and 99.9 F. An internal body temperature of 95 F or lower signals hypothermia.

  • Signs and symptoms that may develop include gradual loss of mental and physical ability. Severe hypothermia can lead to death.

  • Nearly 700 Americans die of hypothermia each year.

  • Those at greatest risk are older adults, who account for half of hypothermia-related deaths, and children.

Tips to avoiding hypothermia

Before you or your children step out into cold air temperatures, remember this simple advice: C-O-L-D.

  • C for Cover Wear a hat or other protective covering to prevent body heat from escaping from your head, face and neck. Cover your hands with mittens instead of gloves. Mittens are more effective than gloves are because mittens keep your fingers in closer contact with one another.

  • O for Overexertion Avoid activities that would cause you to sweat a lot. The combination of wet clothing and cold weather can give you the chills.

  • L for Layers Wear loose-fitting, layered, lightweight clothing. Outer clothing made of tightly woven, water repellent material is best.

  • D for Dry Stay as dry as possible. In the winter, pay special attention to places where snow can enter, such as in loose mittens or snow boots.

Source: A compilation of Web Reports contributed to this report.

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