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Arctic air puts deep freeze on Northeast

More bitter cold expected today

By David Sharp
Associated Press / January 16, 2009
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PORTLAND, Maine - A bone-numbing blast of arctic air slid into the Northeast for an extended stay with extreme temperatures yesterday that fell to 38 below zero in northern Maine, cold enough to idle ski lifts, silence snowmobiles, and send people indoors.

Residents in northern Maine prepared for even colder temperatures of 40 below today and faced the prospect of the thermometer staying below zero until Sunday.

In Boston, Craig Caplan, owner of five pushcarts selling hats, scarves, and gloves in the Downtown Crossing shopping district, said yesterday was one of the coldest days he's seen in 20 years of outdoor work. The credit card machine at his pushcart wasn't printing because the ink had frozen.

"With the year we've had, you've got to come out. You can't let the weather be a deterrent," Caplan said, referring to the rocky economy.

Not everyone was suffering from the cold. Some were enjoying it.

In Vermont, skier David Hyman, 25, of New York had numb toes - and a smile on his face - after an early afternoon run down the slope in single-digit cold at Killington Resort.

"It's actually not too bad. It's cold, but it's not overwhelming," said Hyman, who wore one extra layer to gird himself against the cold yesterday.

Across the region, agencies that serve the homeless and elderly were taking steps to ensure that everyone stayed warm.

The nation's cold spots yesterday were Garrison, N.D., and Pollock, S.D., both of which came in at 47 below zero.

Records lows were recorded in Bismarck, N.D., where it was minus 44, and in Aberdeen, S.D., where it was minus 42.

The deep freeze is notable because of the bitter cold over such a large geographic area, said Scott Stephens from the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C.

The cold comes from a large, dry air mass that had been hanging out in Alaska and northern Canada for a couple of weeks before descending into the eastern half of the United States.

Today is expected to be even colder in the Northeast, while low temperatures were predicted for tonight into tomorrow morning in the Southeast, with temperatures expected to drop into the mid-teens in northern Florida.

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