Originally created 01/19/00

Bitter cold grips Northeast



Noses dripped. Cars wouldn't start. Dogs balked at a trip outside. Some people even had trouble making ice because it was so cold.

It's a bitter reality check for Northeasterners who went outside in T-shirts just two weeks ago to play golf in 60-degree weather.

The coldest spot in the Lower 48 states this morning wasn't International Falls, Minn., but Saranac Lake, N.Y., at 29 degrees below zero. Saranac Lake had the same dubious honor on Monday with a low of minus 26.

The Olympic Regional Development Authority at Lake Placid, N.Y., was unable to apply ice to its new mile-long luge track Monday.

"Water has frozen up in the lines and we can't wet the track," said Sandy Caligiore, the authority's director of communications.

At the summit of Whiteface Mountain, a ski area not far from Lake Placid, it was 33 degrees below zero, with an estimated wind chill of 100 below.

High wind forced the closure of six of the 11 ski lifts and Caligiore was surprised to see customers. "They were 512 more people than I expected to find on the mountain," she said.

The Martin Luther King Day parade in Albany, N.Y., was canceled because of the cold.

In Torrington, Conn., the wind chill Monday morning hovered around 50 degrees below zero, and that cut into sales at Borla's Service Station, said manager Elizabeth Hosford.

"I've noticed people who normally fill up are only putting in a few dollars today because they can't stand being out of their cars that long," she said.

Temperatures below zero were common today across the Northeast. The northern New Hampshire town of Berlin dropped to 28 below zero and Allagash, Maine, hit 21 below, the National Weather Service said. Massachusetts' coldest town was Westfield at 9 below, New Jersey posted a low of 5 below at Charlottsburg, and Danbury, Conn., registered minus 2.

For many places in the Northeast, it hasn't been this cold in three years.

By contrast, the upper Midwest is enjoying a small break from its usual cold. Minneapolis-St. Paul reached a high of 28 Monday before dropping overnight to 18, slightly above the normal high and low of 20 and 2. Even International Falls, the northern Minnesota town known for nasty cold, had a high Monday of 26.

Farther south, winter made an appearance in North Carolina today as up to 6 inches of snow closed schools and businesses in the state's Piedmont region. Some West Virginia schools closed or opened late because of snow, and sleet and freezing rain also delayed some schools in South Carolina.

After a high of 59 on Sunday at Baltimore-Washington International airport, Monday's high was only 29. Maryland's Laurel Park canceled the day's last seven horse races because the weather was "not fit for man or beast," track spokeswoman Ann Taylor said.

Hopping on a horse, she said, would be like taking out a convertible with no windshield. "Going 40 miles an hour on a horse -- wearing little more than underwear -- is the scene I'm setting for you," Taylor said.

Chesapeake Hills Golf Club in Lusby, Md., has covered golf carts equipped with propane heaters for golfers who can't bring themselves to stop for winter.

"We have seven or eight players out there today, believe it or not," golf professional Tom Henderson said Monday. "But it's nothing like yesterday."

Lawrence Coppola of Cheektowaga, a suburb of Buffalo, N.Y., said his 11-pound terrier mix shook for about 20 minutes after he returned inside from a walk.

"He has a tough time warming up after he's outside, but he has no choice but to go outside," he said.