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SKYE on AOL

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    Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014


    Two storms will merge quickly enough to produce a major snowstorm from the upper part of the mid-Atlantic to southern New England Thursday into Friday.

    The storm will affect more than 70 million people in the Midwest and the Northeast combined and could have a major negative impact on travel for people returning from holiday destinations, heading back to school or resuming business activities.

    It will be far from the worst storm to ever hit the area, but people should be prepared for flight delays and cancellations because of direct and indirect impacts from the far-reaching storm.

    AccuWeather.com Chief Operating Officer Evan Myers said, "The storms will not organize fast enough to make the perfect storm, but it will cause a significant amount of snow to fall over a large area."

    Deicing operations will put some airlines behind schedule. Aircraft and crews may not be where they are supposed to be, even if the weather is clear.

    As colder air invades the storm, snow will stick to the roads and make for slippery conditions.

    The worst of the storm is likely to be Thursday night but will cause enough snow to make roads slippery as early as Thursday in some locations.



    The storm is forecast to bring a large area of 6- to 12-inch snowfall from northeastern Pennsylvania to a large part of New Jersey and southeastern New York state to southern New England. This includes the entire metropolitan area of New York City and Long Island, northward to Albany, N.Y., and Scranton, Pa. Over a foot of snow will fall in localized areas of Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut and the cities of Providence, R.I., and Boston.

    Within the heaviest snow area, the snow will fall at the rate of 2 to 4 inches per hour in some locations, making it difficult for plows to keep up.

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    A significant, but lesser snowfall is in store farther southwest in Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., and farther north in Portland, Maine, Burlington, Vt., and Pittsburgh.

    For many areas this will be a dry, powdery snow. However, along the mid-Atlantic coast and even southern New England coast for a brief time, a wintery mix will occur early. However, as colder air invades the storm, the all snow will fall and the snow will become powdery as well.

    The storm will strengthen quickly enough to kick up winds. Blowing and drifting snow will occur during the middle and last part of the storm from Pennsylvania to New England. In parts of New England a full-blown blizzard may evolve.

    The wind will cause waves to build along the New England and the mid-Atlantic coast. Where these winds are onshore longest, over eastern New England and along the north shore of Long Island, flooding at times of high tide is likely, along with beach erosion. The new moon on New Year's Day will contribute to higher tide levels during part of the storm.

    The coldest air of the season so far will empty out of eastern Canada on gusty winds in the wake of the storm. For some locations it will bring the coldest weather in several years.

    Areas from New England to much of the mid-Atlantic will be very cold Friday into Saturday, while travel conditions will improve.

    According to Long Range Weather Expert Jack Boston, "If New York's Central Park fails to reach 20 degrees for a high temperature on Friday, it will be the first time this has occurred since Jan. 16, 2009."

    In the South, the colder air will be accompanied by a biting wind as well.

    The southern part of the two storms is set to join up in the Northeast and will bring drenching rain to parts of the South and along the lower mid-Atlantic coast for a time Thursday.

    The second of the two storms slated to join forces will spread a swath of accumulating snow eastward from Iowa and Illinois to Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia and part of lower Michigan and southern Wisconsin Tuesday into New Year's Day.

    Another storm may eye the Northeast with snow, a wintry mix and rain Sunday night and Monday as 2014 kicks winter up to a whole new level of intensity. Very cold air could also make a far-reaching appearance from the Midwest to the Northeast next week.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 50 Must-See Weather Photos from 2013
    Twin Waterspouts

     

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    Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014

    The spreading chill will lead to many scenes like the file photo above. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)

    As frigid air continues its grip on the Upper Midwest, another surge of frigid air will pay a visit to parts of the Northeast through the end of the week and could deliver the coldest weather in several years.

    In the Midwest, the bitterly cold air will continue to bring frostbite dangers to those not properly dressed and life-threatening conditions for the homeless or those suffering without heat.

    The same conditions will reach into much of the Northeast later this week, into an area that has had only moderate cold thus far.

    The persistent cold can drain car batteries and damage poorly maintained vehicles.

    Many ice-melting compounds are much less effective at the temperatures expected.

    RealFeel(R) temperatures, which have no effect on mechanical items, are a measure of the elements on exposed skin.

    Areas from the Dakotas to Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Michigan will remain in the deep freeze through the first couple of days of 2014.

    Areas along the Canada border will remain below zero or barely reach the single digits for high temperatures through Friday. Nighttime lows in the region will plunge to 30 degrees below zero in some places.

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    Only right around the Great Lakes will open waters moderate the frigid air slightly, by preventing constant subzero temperatures.

    However, farther east, another large bubble of frigid air is poised to push southward out of eastern Canada and into parts of the mid-Atlantic and New England.

    During Wednesday night, ahead of a snowstorm brewing for much of the Northeast, temperatures will plunge to 30 degrees below zero around the St. Lawrence Valley. Where skies are clear and winds are light, temperatures could plummet to almost 40 degrees below zero and rival all-time record lows.

    Once the storm moves away in the Northeast, the gates of the Arctic will be opened and frigid air will be able to pour southward. The air will be able to avoid the waters of lakes Ontario and Erie and push right into much of Pennsylvania, New York state, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware and eastern Virginia, as well as New England.

    According to Weather Expert Bernie Rayno, "This is likely to be the coldest weather for much of the Northeast since January 2009."

    Lows in the cities of Philadelphia, New York, Baltimore and Wilmington, Del., will drop into the single digits Friday night.

    Lows in Scranton, Pa.; Hartford, Conn.; Albany, N.Y.; Providence, R.I.; Portland, Maine; and Boston will be below zero.

    Conditions will be dry and very cold for the NFL playoff game at Philadelphia Saturday evening. Temperatures will be in the lower 20s.

    The weather will be a bit less harsh for the NFL playoff game at Cincinnati Sunday afternoon with temperatures in the 30s. However, there can be a bit of snow for that game.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 50 Must-See Weather Photos from 2013
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    Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014

    This file photo of a snowstorm in Mass. shows what the coming storm will bring. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

    A series of snowstorms rolling southeastward from western Canada will continue to affect a heavily populated area of the Midwest, centered on the I-80/90 corridor.

    The most significant and essentially the caboose in the storm train will swing through Tuesday into New Year's Day.

    Due to the frigid air in place, most of the snow will stick to the roads making for slippery travel to I-70 and as far south as I-64.

    Expect flight delays and cancellations due to deicing activities at local airports and due to aircraft and crews delayed from cities being hit with heavy snowfall in the East.

    A general swath of 3 to 6 inches of snow is forecast to fall from parts of Iowa and northern Missouri, eastward to northern and central portions of Illinois, Indiana and Ohio to western Pennsylvania. Cities in the path of the moderate snowfall for New Year's Eve and New Year's Day activities includes Des Moines, Iowa; Chicago; Fort Wayne, Ind.; Cleveland and Toledo, Ohio; and Pittsburgh.

    A zone of 1 to 3 inches of snow will fall farther south over Missouri through the Ohio Valley and into the central and southern Appalachians.

    A few inches of snow will fall on Detroit and Ann Arbor, Mich., Milwaukee, St. Louis, Indianapolis and Cincinnati. Crews may need to clean off the rink at the Winter Classic in Ann Arbor New Year's Day.

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    A sharp cutoff to the northern edge of the snow is likely, due to the magnitude of the dry, frigid air sitting across the northern tier of the nation.

    The snow will stay south of Minneapolis, Madison, Wis., and Flint, Mich.

    The storm will focus in the East Thursday into Friday, so the airline issues locally may last through the end of the week and could cause problems for those planning on resuming business activities, returning home from vacations or heading back to school.

    In the wake of the caboose in the storm train, lake effect may continue to bring locally heavy snow to areas along the western and southern shores of Lake Michigan, including Chicago and Milwaukee, along the southern shore of Lake Superior and the southwestern shores of Lake Huron on Thursday.

    Along the northern tier of the United States, temperatures may fail to get above zero until Friday.

    Another blast of brutally cold air is forecast to sweep southeastward from Canada during the first half of next week.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 50 Must-See Weather Photos from 2013
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    Story updated Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014 at 2 :29 p.m. ET
    Millions Prepare For Massive Winter Storm
    HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A winter storm promising significant snowfall, strong winds and frigid air bore down Thursday on the Northeast, making commutes hazardous for the first work day of the new year and giving some students an extra day off school following Christmas break.

    Snow began falling overnight in parts of New England and New York, but the real brunt of the storm wasn't expected to hit until later Thursday. As much as a foot of snow or more was forecast for some areas overnight Thursday into Friday. Temperatures were expected to plummet, with some areas seeing highs just above zero, according to the National Weather Service.

    "There will be travel problems," said Hugh Johnson, a weather service meteorologist in Albany, N.Y. "It will be very cold."

    As much as 14 inches of snow was forecast for the Boston area, and the National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning for Long Island - where 8 to 10 inches of snow could fall and winds could gust up to 45 mph - from Thursday evening into Friday afternoon.

    "We're going to see a lot of snow and a lot of wind," said Jason Tuell, director of the eastern region of the National Weather Service. "We're concerned about whiteout conditions possibly tonight with the blowing and drifting snow."

    The wind chill will make it feel 10 degrees below zero or colder in some places, Tuell said.

    Some schools in New England and New York closed preemptively or planned early dismissals, while cities issued parking bans and homeless shelters were expected to fill beyond capacity.

    The storm dropped up to a foot of snow on parts of Michigan and 6 inches or more in Illinois, prompting hundreds of flight cancellations Wednesday into and out of Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, according to the aviation tracking website FlightAware.com.

    U.S. airlines canceled more than 1,800 flights nationwide on Thursday in advance of the storm. Many were on regional airlines that handle shorter flights for the major carriers.

    More than 500 flights in or out of O'Hare airport were canceled, according to FlightStats.com. The flights that were getting out were delayed more than half an hour, and incoming flights were being delayed at their origin, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

    Airlines already have canceled more than 500 flights scheduled for Friday.

    AAA Michigan says it received 500 calls by midmorning Thursday from drivers dealing with spinouts, cars in ditches and dead batteries. In New Hampshire, state police temporarily closed a busy section of northbound Interstate 93 just south of the Interstate 89 junction in Bow because of multiple accidents. Accidents were also reported in Ohio, Indiana and Missouri.

    "Anything below 25 degrees and the salt isn't nearly as effective," said Becky Allmeroth, maintenance engineer for the Missouri Department of Transportation's St. Louis district, where crews were mixing chemicals and beet juice with salt to try and make roads passable. "Since the snow blows so easily and the temperatures are so cold, once it hits the roadway it freezes when it hits the surface."

    In Maine, temperatures could plummet to minus-35 in the mountains Friday night, meteorologist John Cannon said. It's so cold that the Smiling Hill Farm cross-country ski area closed for the day on Thursday.

    Authorities said the weather may have been a factor in a fatal crash Wednesday evening involving a pickup and a bus carrying casino patrons in Indiana. Police said the truck's driver was killed and 15 bus passengers were injured in the collision on a snow-covered and slushy highway in Rolling Prairie.

    Sections of interior southern New England and New York could get up to a foot of snow by the time the storm moves out, with forecasts generally calling for 6 to 12 inches. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged the city's commuters to leave their cars a t home in case major highways are closed for Thursday's evening rush hour.

    An early morning dusting of snow gave some residents an idea of what was to come later as the storm headed toward the city.

    "I guess it's kind of a preview," said Helmut Kugler, 54, as he gassed up his car at a Mobil station in the Bronx. "It's not snowing now, but they say it's coming hard."

    The forecast was for up to 8 inches in the city by Friday. The weather service issued a winter storm warning for New York and its northern suburbs.

    Although lesser amounts of snow were forecast to the south, Philadelphia and parts of southern New Jersey were expected to see 3 to 7 inches of blowing, drifting snow.

    In Toms River, N.J., Jonas Caldwell said he was prepared for whatever the storm might bring

    "Santa brought me a snow blower, and I've got rock salt for the ice, so now I'm just waiting for the storm," he said while grabbing a coffee at a convenience store.

    Caldwell, an investment adviser, said he could work from home if necessary, but he was hoping that wouldn't be the case.

    "There are too many distractions at home," he said. "But I won't be stupid ... If it gets as bad as they say it will be, or looks like it will, I'll be staying put."

    In Hartford, Hal Guy, of nearby Glastonbury, was shopping for snow shovels - three, to be exact.

    "We broke a couple in the last storm," he said. "We have four kids, so, three shovels, and we still have a little one back home."

    Guy said three of his kids, girls ages 8, 10 and 12, have been out of school for two weeks for the holidays and hope to get a couple more days off with the snow.

    Over in Maine, where some communities are still recovering from a recent ice storm that cut power to more than 100,000 customers, people seemed prepared for more winter weather.

    Kelly St. Denis, of Auburn, went skiing Wednesday at the Sunday River ski area with family and friends. She said it's been cold but the skiing has been good.

    "Hey, it's winter in Maine," she said. "We go with it."

    RELATED ON SKYE: 20 Photos of Monster Blizzards

     

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    Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014
    In this Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013 image provided by Australasian Antarctic Expedition/Footloose Fotography, passengers from the Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy link arms and stamp out a helicopter landing site on the ice near the trapped ship 1,500 nautical miles south of Hobart, Australia. Passengers on board a research ship that has been trapped in Antarctic ice for a week are expected to be rescued by helicopter, after three icebreakers failed to reach the paralyzed vessel, officials said Tuesday.  (AP Photo/Australasian Antarctic Expedition/Footloose Fotography, Andrew Peacock) EDITORIAL USE ONLY
    In this Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013, image, passengers from the Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy link arms and stamp out a helicopter landing site on the ice near the trapped ship. (AP Photo/Australasian Antarctic Expedition/Footloose Fotography, Andrew Peacock)

    CANBERRA, Australia (AP) - A helicopter rescued all 52 passengers from a research ship that has been trapped in Antarctic ice since Christmas Eve after weather conditions finally cleared enough for the operation Thursday.

    A helicopter carried the scientists and tourists from the Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalski in groups of 12 to an Australian icebreaker, said the Australian Maritime Safety Authority's Rescue Coordination Centre, which oversaw the rescue. The Aurora Australis will now take the passengers to the Australian island state of Tasmania, a journey expected to last two weeks.

    "I think everyone is relieved and excited to be going on to the Australian icebreaker and then home," expedition leader Chris Turney told the Associated Press by satellite phone from the Antarctic.

    All 22 crew members stayed with the icebound vessel, which is not in danger of sinking and has weeks' worth of supplies on board. They will wait until the ice that surrounds the ship breaks up.

    The eagerly anticipated rescue came after days of failed attempts to reach the vessel. Blinding snow, strong winds, fog and thick sea ice forced rescuers to turn back time and again.

    Three icebreakers were dispatched to try and crack their way through the ice surrounding the ship, but all failed. The Aurora came within 12 miles of the ship Monday, but fierce winds and snow forced it to retreat to open water.

    On Thursday, it appeared the weather had thwarted yet another rescue attempt. The helicopter was originally going to airlift the passengers to a Chinese icebreaker, the Snow Dragon, with a barge then ferrying them to the Aurora. But sea ice prevented the barge from reaching the Snow Dragon, and the maritime authority said the operation would have to be delayed.

    A last-minute change in plans allowed the rescue to go ahead. The passengers were instead flown to an ice floe next to the Aurora and then taken by a small boat to the Australian ship, Turney said.

    The Akademik Shokalskiy, which left New Zealand on Nov. 28, got stuck after a blizzard pushed the sea ice around the ship, freezing it in place about 1,700 miles south of Hobart, Tasmania. The scientific team on board had been recreating Australian explorer Douglas Mawson's 1911 to 1913 voyage to Antarctica.

    Turney had hoped to continue the trip if an icebreaker managed to free the ship. Despite his disappointment over the expedition being cut short, he said his spirits remained high.

    "I'm a bit sad it's ended this way," he said. "But we got lots and lots of great science done."

    RELATED ON SKYE: 30 Ice Sculptures That Will Take Your Breath Away

     

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    Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014
    Swimmers jump into frigid waters at Coney Island beach in New York, Wednesday, Jan. 1 2014, as they take part in the 111th Annual New Year's Day Polar Bear Plunge. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
    Swimmers jump into frigid waters at Coney Island beach in New York, Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014, as they take part in the 111th Annual New Year's Day Polar Bear Plunge. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

    NEW YORK (AP) - Hundreds of brave bathers rang in 2014 with a plunge into the icy ocean off Coney Island.

    Members of the Coney Island Polar Bear and Ice Breakers clubs and other hardy swimmers stripped down to their trunks or dressed in costumes on Wednesday for the annual New Year's Day splash.

    Some people hit the surf dressed only in bikinis or briefs. A group of guys wore bow ties and top hats and had a tea party, and others waved giant American flags. Temperatures outside were in the low 30s. People screamed at the shock of the cold water.

    Polar Bear club president Dennis Thomas, whose club has hosted the annual dip since 1903, said it was a perfect day for a swim.

    "It was a glorious beach day," he said. "New York City beaches are great even in the winter. We love being out in it."

    Thomas has been a member for more than 30 years and has done countless swims. Others, though, were jumping in for the first time.

    Michael Haltman and his 17-year-old son, Cory Haltman, took the plunge to raise awareness for the bone marrow donation registry. His 23-year-old daughter, Samantha Haltman, is donating bone marrow to a patient struggling with blood cancer, and they wanted to show support.

    The water was a shock - Haltman said he felt it was difficult to breathe.

    "I wore a winter coat until it was time to go, but others were out there for an hour and a half only in bikinis," Haltman said. "Parts of my body are still re-emerging. The sun wasn't out. It was freezing. Water temperature wasn't much warmer."

    The Polar Bear club swim raises money for Camp Sunshine, a camp for children with life-threatening illnesses. The club hosts swims weekly during the winter months.

    Just east of Coney Island at Brighton Beach, the Ice Breakers plunged into the Atlantic. The group has 14 members over the age of 70, including 90-year-old Michael Friedman. The group is a loose membership of eager winter swimmers who raise awareness for environmental issues.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 30 Ice Sculptures That Will Take Your Breath Away

     

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    Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014
    Finals Watch
    Rain and clouds move through downtown Atlanta in this file photo. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

    Rain continues across the Southeast, moving out of South Texas for Thursday.

    Enough rain will fall to slow travel and impact outdoor activities from Tallahassee and Jacksonville, Fla., to Savannah, Ga.,Charleston, S.C., and Wilmington, N.C.

    The bulk of the rain will fall from northern Florida to the coastal areas of the Carolinas, where a general 1 to 2 inches of rain is forecast with local amounts near 3 inches.



    In a few cases, from the northeastern Gulf Coast to the southern part of the Atlantic Seaboard, the rain can lead to poor-drainage-area flooding. Much less rain is forecast to fall on the southern Appalachians and foothills that were soaked by the storm last weekend, so few new flooding problems are anticipated on streams and rivers.

    A few showers will affect central Florida with very little rainfall likely in South Florida.

    The moisture will sweep into a large and developing storm system in the Northeast that will unload heavy snow and produce blizzard conditions in some areas Thursday night into Friday.

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    As that storm strengthens and moves away Thursday night and Friday, gusty northwesterly winds will draw down colder air from the Midwest and Northeast. The winds in the region can lead to flight delays at area airports, including Atlanta and Charlotte, N.C. Meanwhile, the storm in the Northeast may also tie up aircraft and crews.

    Temperatures will plunge from the 50s Thursday to the 20s Thursday night over much of the South. In most cases roads will dry off in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas. However, there could be a few icy spots developing.

    Warmer air will return this weekend, ahead of another storm system that will bring a quick change back to cold during early next week.

    RELATED ON SKYE: The World's Best Snow and Ice Festivals

     

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    Thursday, Dec. 2, 2014
    Winter Weather NY
    (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

    As bitterly cold air continues its grip on the Upper Midwest, another surge of frigid air will pay a visit to parts of the Northeast following a blizzard and could deliver the coldest weather in several years.

    In the Midwest, the bitterly cold air continues to bring frostbite dangers to those not properly dressed and life-threatening conditions for the homeless or those suffering without heat.

    The same brutally cold conditions will reach into much of the Northeast later this week, into an area that has had only moderate cold thus far.

    The persistent cold can drain car batteries and damage poorly maintained vehicles. Tire pressure can drop significantly in cold weather of this magnitude. Many ice-melting compounds are much less effective at the temperatures expected. Pipes exposed to cold drafts from the outside can freeze. Do not allow kids and animals to remain outdoors for long periods of time, do to the risk of frostbite.



    Areas from the Dakotas to Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Michigan will remain in the deep freeze through the first couple of days of 2014.

    International Falls, Minn., rang in the New Year at -27 degrees Fahrenheit and dropped to -42 degrees early Thursday morning.

    Like International Falls, areas along the Canada border will remain below zero through Thursday. Nighttime lows in the region will plunge to 30 degrees below zero in some places.

    Only right around the Great Lakes will open waters moderate the frigid air slightly, by preventing constant subzero temperatures.

    However, farther east, another large bubble of frigid air is poised to push southward out of eastern Canada and into parts of the mid-Atlantic and New England. Temperatures Thursday morning ranged from minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit to minus 40 degrees just north of the St. Lawrence River in Quebec and Ontario.

    Once the storm moves away in the Northeast, the gates of the Arctic will be opened and frigid air will be able to pour southward. The air will be able to avoid the waters of lakes Ontario and Erie and push right into much of Pennsylvania, New York state, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware and eastern Virginia, as well as New England.

    According to weather expert Bernie Rayno, "This is likely to be the coldest weather for much of the Northeast since January 2009."

    RELATED:
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    Lows Friday night in the cities of Philadelphia, New York, Baltimore and Wilmington, Del., will drop into the single digits Friday night.

    Lows in Friday night Scranton, Pa.; Hartford, Conn.; Albany, N.Y.; Providence, R.I.; Portland, Maine; and Boston will be below zero.

    Conditions will be dry and cold for the NFL playoff game between the Saints and the Eagles at Philadelphia Saturday evening. Temperatures will be in the middle 20s.

    The weather will turn windy and colder during the NFL playoff game at Cincinnati Sunday afternoon between the Bengals and the Chargers. Temperatures will plunge through the 30s and some snow is in the offing.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 30 Ice Sculptures That Will Take Your Breath Away

     

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    Thursday, Jan. 2, 2103

    Christina Kistler walks her dog Sheldon in snow on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014, in Albany, N.Y. Snow and bone-chilling temperatures are greeting morning commuters across New York on the first work day of 2014, with some upstate areas expected to get more than a foot of snow by the weekend. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

    BOSTON (AP) - A storm expected to bring heavy snow, stiff winds and punishing cold pushed into the U.S. Northeast on Thursday, extending Christmas break for some students while posing the first test for New York's new mayor and perhaps the last challenge for Boston's outgoing one.

    Some schools in New England and New York closed well ahead of the snow, while cities mobilized plows and salt spreaders, and state offices sent workers home early. Some major highways were ordered shut down overnight. U.S. airlines canceled more than 2,300 flights nationwide on Thursday in advance of the storm.

    The heavy weather began rolling in just a day after New York Mayor Bill de Blasio was sworn in to lead the nation's largest city and a few days before Boston Mayor Thomas Menino ends 20 years in office.

    Menino announced a parking ban and said schools would be closed Friday in Boston, where up to 14 inches (36 centimeters) of snow was expected. Boston's airport said it would not handle any flights after 8:30 p.m. Thursday.

    "What a New Year's gift, to receive one last snowstorm as mayor," said Menino, whose successor takes office Monday.

    De Blasio, who as public advocate in 2010 criticized his predecessor Mayor Michael Bloomberg for his handling of a post-Christmas storm, said hundreds of plows and salt spreaders would be on the streets as soon as the snow started falling Thursday night.

    "We have to get it right, no question about it," de Blasio said. "We are focused like a laser on protecting this city and getting everyone ready. We have all hands on deck."

    Snow began falling overnight Wednesday in parts of New England and New York state, but the brunt of the storm wasn't expected until late Thursday. Forecasters said temperatures would plummet to well below freezing.

    The National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning for Cape Cod, coastal areas north and south of Boston and part of Maine as well as New York's Long Island, where up to 10 inches of snow could fall and winds could gust to 45 mph.

    Interior southern New England and New York state could get up to a foot of snow. New York City was expecting 8 inches (20 centimeters), while Philadelphia could see up to 7 inches (18 centimeters).

    As the storm pushed eastward on New Year's Day and Thursday, it dropped as much as 18 inches (46 centimeters) on suburban Chicago and up to 10 inches on Michigan, prompting the cancellation Wednesday of hundreds of flights in and out of Chicago's O'Hare Airport. Below-zero cold is expected across the region over the next few days.

    PHOTOS: New Year's Storm Bears Down on Northeast

     

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    Friday, Jan. 3, 2014
    Winter Weather
    A pedestrian walks in the snow on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014, in Albany, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

    Quick surges of frigid and mild air will produce dramatic temperature swings from one day to the next in the East.

    The temperature swings of 25 to 50 degrees in a matter of hours will make it very hard for some people adjust and can lead to melting and freezing cycles that cannot only rupture water mains but also cause ice to form following bouts of melting snow.

    During the cold days, when the wind is blowing, combined with other atmosphere conditions, RealFeel(R) temperatures will can be 10 to 30 degrees lower than the actual temperature.

    Air blasting southward from eastern Canada on Friday will send temperatures down to their lowest levels since January 2009 in many locations from New England to part of the mid-Atlantic.

    This includes temperatures dipping well below zero from northern Pennsylvania to the Hudson Valley of New York to southern New England, on northward into neighboring Canada. Cities that will plunge below zero Friday night include Boston, Hartford, Conn., and Scranton, Pa.

    Lows in the single digits are forecast Saturday morning from Pittsburgh to Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York City.

    However, after a cold day on Saturday, temperatures will rebound to above-average levels from the Appalachians to the coastal mid-Atlantic and southern New England.

    According to Long Range Weather Expert Paul Pastelok, "Temperatures will reach the 40s in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York City on Sunday."

    The warmup will not set a new trend.

    Already Sunday, another blast of frigid air will be charging in. This one will arrive from the west and will sweep across the Ohio and Tennessee valleys and into the Appalachians Sunday night in the wake of snow, a quick freeze and even a blizzard in some areas.

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    The new blast of frigid air will push over the Appalachians and to the Atlantic Seaboard during Monday.

    "Temperatures Monday that start near mild levels in the 40s and even near 50 degrees in some locations will crash below freezing as the day wears on," Pastelok said.

    Temperatures are forecast to plunge toward zero Monday night in the Appalachians and into the teens along the I-95 corridor. Temperatures may rise very little Tuesday, from the 8:00 a.m. lows.

    Temperatures will start the day Monday and Tuesday below zero over much of the Ohio Valley and may rise to only the single digits.

    "Around the western Great Lakes, such as Chicago, temperatures are likely to remain below zero around the clock on Monday," Pastelok added.

    The last time temperatures were this low was during early February of 1996 in Chicago and vicinity.

    PHOTOS: First Winter Storm of 2014 Socks Northeast

     

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    Updated Friday, Jan. 3, 2014, 2:26 p.m. ET
    US-WEATHER-TIMES SQUARE
    Visitors enjoy the snow on Broadway January 2, 2014, on Times Square in New York. (DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)

    BOSTON (AP) - A storm dropped a blanket of light, powdery snow across the Northeast and ushered in frigid temperatures Friday that were unusual even for cities accustomed to blasts of winter weather. The storm, which shut down major highways temporarily and grounded flights, was blamed for at least 11 deaths as it swept across the eastern half of the country.

    The nor'easter was accompanied by plummeting temperatures that on Friday morning reached 8 degrees below zero in Burlington, Vt., with a wind chill of 29 below, and 2 degrees in Boston, with a wind chill of minus 20. It dumped 23 inches of snow in Boxford, Mass., and 18 inches in parts of western New York near Rochester. Thirteen inches of snow fell in Boston, while Lakewood, N.J., got 10 inches and New York City's Central Park got 6.

    Wellington Ferreira said the cold was worse than the snow as he cleared a sidewalk in front of Johnny D's Uptown Restaurant and Music Club in Somerville, Mass.

    "My ears are frozen," he said. "I've been here for a couple a years, so I'm all right, but I hate it. I'm never going to get used to it."

    PHOTOS: First Winter Storm of 2014 Socks Northeast
    Schools and offices were closed across the region, and police were busy responding to accidents and reports of stranded vehicles. Governors in New York and New Jersey declared states of emergency Thursday, urging residents to stay home. But few power outages were reported Friday and wind gusts actually made the snow easy to manage.

    "It's light and fluffy, so it's easy," said 33-year-old Michael Connors, was shoveling in front of businesses in downtown Fairfield, Conn.

    Sonja Keller of Scituate, Mass., was out walking her labradoodle puppy near the ocean as waves came over a seawall. Because of high winds, the snow was knee deep in some places and barely visible in others. Her children, ages 4, 6 and 8, had gotten in almost a full day of school on Thursday but were off again Friday.

    "I'm just going to stay inside, play some games with the kids," she said. "They can go outside and play in the snow again. They enjoy the snow."

    U.S. airlines canceled more than 2,300 flights Thursday because of the snowfall and low visibility. By midday Friday, about 2,200 flights were canceled nationwide, according to the aviation tracking website FlightAware.com. The bulk of those were in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago and Washington, D.C.

    The brunt of the storm began late Thursday in parts of New England and New York state. Forecasters warned that gusts of up to 30 miles per hour could bring wind chills to minus 25 degrees, cold enough to cause frostbite in about 30 minutes or less, with some of the coldest temperatures expected Friday night. The weather service said people should dress warmly to avoid hypothermia and cover all exposed skin.

    Warming centers opened around the region, homeless shelters saw larger crowds and cities took special measures to look after those most vulnerable to the cold. Outreach teams were searching New York City streets for homeless people at risk of freezing to death.

    Temperatures in the Northeast are expected to rise above freezing over the weekend, before the arrival of another blast of frigid air that was already affecting the Midwest. In Wisconsin, a record low temperature was set Friday morning in Green Bay, where the mercury dipped to minus 18. The National Weather Service said that topped the 17-below-zero mark last recorded in 1979.

    It was so cold in a place that bills itself as Snowtown USA that some events at the town's winter festival were canceled. Organizers of this week's Snowtown festival in Watertown in northern New York scratched a snowshoe tour, horse-drawn carriage rides, dog sled rides and a snow softball tournament as temperatures plunged below zero across the North Country. Organizers moved other outdoor activities to indoor facilities.

    The weather posed the first test for New York City's new mayor, Bill de Blasio, who was sworn in to lead the nation's largest city a day before the heavy snow arrived.

    De Blasio, who as public advocate in 2010 criticized his predecessor Mayor Michael Bloomberg for his handling of a large snowstorm, dispatched hundreds of plows and salt spreaders on the streets as soon as the snow started falling Thursday night.

    "I feel great about the response," De Blasio said Friday after shoveling the sidewalk outside his Brooklyn home. "We are vigilant. We are not out of this yet. As a great man said, 'It's not over until it's over.' But I like what I see in terms of the rigor and the intensity of the city response."

    In Hallowell, Maine, where temperatures dipped to minus 8 degrees Friday morning, David Wheelock used a shovel to search the snow where he dropped his keys outside his son's copy and printing shop.

    The 73-year-old lifelong Maine resident said he's seen his fair share of bad winters and wasn't too fazed by the snow and bitter cold. But he said it can be dangerous if people aren't prepared for the worst, with things like back-up heat sources at home, and jumper cables and extra clothes in the car.

    "I don't always rely on someone else to come bail me out," he said.

    In the East, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered three major highways closed overnight. The Thruway between Albany and the Bronx, the Long Island Expressway and Interstate 84 between the Pennsylvania and Connecticut borders all reopened Friday morning. Southbound Interstate 95 closed in Philadelphia for several hours because of a jackknifed tractor-trailer.

    Amtrak was running trains on all of its Northeast lines on Friday but operating on a modified schedule, spokeswoman Christina Leeds said. Commuter trains in and out of New York City were operating on reduced schedules.

    Slick roads were blamed for traffic deaths in New York, Michigan, Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois. Authorities said a 71-year-old woman suffering from Alzheimer's disease froze to death after she wandered away from her rural western New York home.

    As the storm approached, a worker at a suburban Philadelphia salt storage facility was killed when a 100-foot-tall pile of road salt fell and crushed him. Falls Township police said the man was trapped while operating a backhoe. There was no word on what may have caused the accident.

    The snowstorm worked its way east from the Midwest, where it dropped up to a foot of snow on Michigan and more than a foot in parts of Illinois, prompting the cancellation Thursday of hundreds of flights at both Chicago airports. It merged with low pressure moving northeast off the mid-Atlantic coast, forming a nor'easter.

    PHOTOS: First Winter Storm of 2014 Socks Northeast

     

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    Friday, Jan. 3, 2014
    Winter Weather
    Cars are covered by snow in rental car parking lot at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

    Yet another snowstorm will slam into the Midwest by the end of the weekend and will be followed by brutally cold air early next week. As bitterly cold air charges in, blizzard conditions could develop in some areas.

    A cold front will approach the Great Lakes late Saturday and will set the stage for cold and snow around Chicago and Detroit on Sunday.

    A new storm center will form along the front in the Mississippi Valley late on Sunday, bringing another snowstorm to the Great Lakes and parts of the Northeast.



    Although there is still some discrepancy as to where exactly the low will track once it develops, the heaviest corridor of snow looks to extend from western Tennessee, northeastward through the Ohio Valley, into the eastern Great Lakes and to southern Ontario for the start of the week.

    Cities that could be hit by a sudden blinding snow, plunging temperatures and a quick freeze include Nashville, Tenn.; Lexington, Ky.; Cincinnati; Morgantown, W.Va.; Pittsburgh; Buffalo, N.Y.; and Toronto, Ontario. Travel along I-40, I-64 and I-65 could be difficult Sunday night.

    As lake-effect blends in with the general storm, some bands of intense snowfall are likely.

    According to senior meteorologist Dale Mohler, "Blizzard conditions may develop from eastern Ohio to West Virginia, western Maryland, western Pennsylvania Sunday night and Monday, and in western New York Monday into Tuesday."



    Whiteout conditions are possible in these areas with strong winds, plunging temperatures and heavy snowfall rates.

    "Major interstate highways including I-79, I-80, I-81, I-90 and Route 219 could close down for a time due to the intense conditions Monday into Tuesday," Mohler added.

    Some people could be caught off guard and stranded by the storm.

    A dangerous cold wave will blast in its wake. The new wave of frigid air will reach the I-95 Northeast on Monday.

    Temperatures in Chicago are not expected to exceed zero degrees on Monday with Detroit experiencing afternoon highs in the single digits Monday and Tuesday.

    According to senior meteorologist Alex Sosnowski, "The last time Chicago was this cold was during early February of 1996, where temperatures remained below zero around the clock for a couple of days."

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    Lows Monday night in Binghamton, N.Y., and Pittsburgh will drop well below zero with highs in the single digits Tuesday.

    January typically bring the lowest average temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere. Combined with less sunlight and a growing snowpack, the first month of the year can bring some downright frigid air. However, occasional bouts of frigid air with some of the coldest nighttime lows can occur well into February.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 20 Photos of Monster Blizzards

     

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    Friday, Jan. 3, 2014
    A train passes along the coast at Saltcoats in Scotland, Friday, Jan. 2014, as Britain is braced for the worst as a combination of high tides, heavy rains and strong winds are expected to bring yet more severe flooding to many parts of the country. The storm follows severe weather in early December and over Christmas. (AP Photo/PA, Danny Lawson)  UNITED KINGDOM OUT  NO SALES  NO ARCHIVE
    A train passes along the coast at Saltcoats in Scotland, Friday, Jan. 2014, as Britain is braced for the worst as a combination of high tides, heavy rains and strong winds are expected to bring yet more severe flooding to many parts of the country. (AP Photo/PA, Danny Lawson)

    LONDON (AP) - High winds, waves and tides were lashing Britain's western coast Friday in a winter storm that flooded seaside towns and low-lying areas.

    Wales, southwest England and Northern Ireland were the worst-hit regions by the storm, the latest in a series of extreme winter conditions. Parts of northwestern France also suffered flooding.

    A combination of heavy rain, winds gusting up to 70 mph (113 kph) and exceptionally high tides sent water flooding into several British seaside towns Friday, and some western rivers burst their banks.

    The U.K. Environment Agency issued 14 severe flood warnings - meaning there is a threat to life and property - as well as more than 400 less serious flood warnings and alerts.

    In Belfast, residents sandbagged properties and police told people in dockside neighborhoods they should be ready to evacuate.

    Floods also washed over parts of northwestern France, as heavy rains coupled with unusually high tides left the streets of some coastal towns underwater.

    Finistere - a French region jutting out into the Atlantic whose name roughly translates as "Land's End" - was under high alert Friday for flooding. In town of Quimperle, further south along the Brittany coast, shops and homes were evacuated as the Laita River overflowed its banks.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 50 Incredible Photos of Forces of Nature
    Volcano Eruption

     

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    Friday, Jan. 3, 2014
    In this image provided by Australasian Antarctic Expedition some of the 52 passengers trapped for more than a week on the icebound Russian research ship MV Akademik Shokalskiyin are rescued by a Chinese helicopter Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014.  The helicopter rescued all 52 passengers from the research ship that has been trapped in Antarctic ice, 1,500 nautical miles south of Hobart, Australia, since Christmas Eve after weather conditions finally cleared enough for the operation Thursday. (AP Photo/Australasian Antarctic Expedition, Jessica Fitzpatrick) EDITORIAL USE ONLY, ONE TIME USE, NO ARCHIVES
    Passengers trapped for more than a week on the icebound Russian research ship MV Akademik Shokalskiyin are rescued by a Chinese helicopter Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014. (AP Photo/Australasian Antarctic Expedition, Jessica Fitzpatrick)

    CANBERRA, Australia (AP) - An Australian icebreaker carrying 52 passengers who were retrieved from an icebound ship in the Antarctic was told to halt its journey home on Friday after concerns that a Chinese vessel involved in the dramatic rescue may also become stuck in the heavy sea ice.

    The icebreaker Aurora Australis had been slowly cracking through thick ice toward open water after a Chinese helicopter on Thursday plucked the passengers from their stranded Russian research ship and carried them to the Aurora.

    But on Friday afternoon, the crew of a Chinese icebreaker that had provided the helicopter said they were worried about their own ship's ability to move through the ice. The Aurora - which was carrying the passengers to the Australian island state of Tasmania - was told to stay in the area in case the Chinese icebreaker Snow Dragon needs help, according to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority's Rescue Coordination Centre, which oversaw the rescue.

    The Snow Dragon, which is at the edge of the ice pack surrounding the Russian vessel, will attempt to push through the ice to open water early Saturday, when tidal conditions are most favorable. The Aurora is waiting around 11 kilometers (7 miles) north of the Snow Dragon, said Lisa Martin, spokeswoman for the marine authority.

    Authorities have not said what the next step would be if the Snow Dragon became stuck, but it is possible that the Aurora will utilize its icebreaking capabilities to assist the Chinese vessel.

    The maritime authority said the decision to place the Aurora on standby was a precaution and noted there was no danger to anyone on board the Snow Dragon. But it was yet another wrinkle in the highly complex rescue operation of those on board the Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy, which got stuck in the ice on Christmas Eve.

    A spot of clear weather on Thursday finally allowed the multinational rescue operation after blinding snow, strong winds and thick sea ice forced rescuers to turn back time and again.

    The twin-rotor helicopter, which is based on the Snow Dragon, took seven hours to carry the scientists and tourists in groups of 12 from the Russian ship to the Aurora. Earlier, the passengers had linked arms and stomped out a landing site in the snow next to the Russian ship for the helicopter.

    Helicopter pilot Jia Shuliang told China's official Xinhua News Agency that he had no way of knowing whether the ice could withstand the helicopter's weight.

    The rescue came in the never-ending daylight of summer after days of failed attempts to reach the vessel.

    "I think everyone is relieved and excited to be going on to the Australian icebreaker and then home," expedition leader Chris Turney told the Associated Press by satellite phone from the Antarctic.

    Sydney resident Joanne Sim, a paying passenger, wept as she boarded the Australian icebreaker. She said the passengers had spent their time watching movies and playing games.

    "It really has been an emotional roller coaster," she told a reporter from The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper who is aboard the ship.

    The 22 crew members of the Akademik Shokalskiy stayed with the icebound vessel, which is not in any danger and has enough supplies on board to last for weeks. They will wait until the ice surrounding the ship breaks up, which could take several weeks, ASMA Emergency Response Division manager John Young said.

    "Only now am I sort of feeling a bit emotional about leaving the Shokalskiy," Alok Jha, a journalist from The Guardian who is traveling with the Akademik Shokalskiy, said in a video shot before he boarded the helicopter. "The poor old thing is stuck still."

    The cost of the rescue would be carried by the owners of the ships and their insurers, in accordance with international conventions on sea rescues, Young said.

    Any official inquiry into how the ship got stuck would have to be conducted by Russia, he said.

    The Akademik Shokalskiy, which left New Zealand on Nov. 28, got stuck after a blizzard pushed the sea ice around the ship, freezing it in place about 2,700 kilometers (1,700 miles) south of Hobart, Tasmania. The scientific team on board the Russian vessel had been recreating Australian explorer Douglas Mawson's 1911 to 1913 voyage to Antarctica.

     

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    The Orion Nebula, also known as Messier 42 or NGC 1976, is located approximately 1,500 light-years from Earth. (Credit: Chuck Manges | www.astrochuck.blogspot.com)

    The famed Orion Nebula is the star attraction of this gorgeous night sky photo sent in to SPACE.com recently by an amateur astronomer.

    Astrophotographer Chuck Manges of Hooversville, Pa., captured this photo of the Orion Nebula, which is also known as Messier 42 or NGC 1976. The nebula is located approximately 1,500 light-years from Earth. The vivid colors seen in the iconic nebula's region of star formation are created by oxygen and hydrogen gas emission.

    Messier 42 spans 40 light-years across and can be viewed with the unaided eye near the belt of the three stars in the constellation Orion. A light-year is the distance light travels in one year, or about 6 trillion miles (10 trillion kilometers). [See more spectacular photos of the Orion Nebula]

    The photo is a combination of images Manges took with a QHY9M CCD camera and two different telescopes. An Orion ED102T CF telescope mounted on an Orion Sirius was used to view the nebula from October to November 2012. He also used an Astro-Tech AT65EDQ mounted on an Orion Sirius on Nov. 8, 2013. The images were acquired using APT software, guiding with Starlight Express OAG and QHY5L-II.

    Nebulosity 3 was used to combine all the 65mm/102mm subs. The image was post processed with Photoshop CS6 and StarTools.

    To see more amazing night sky photos submitted by SPACE.com readers, visit our astrophotography archive.

    Editor's note: If you have an amazing night sky photo you'd like to share for a possible story or image gallery, please contact managing editor Tariq Malik at spacephotos@space.com.

    Follow SPACE.com on Twitter @Spacedotcom. We're also on Facebook & Google+. Original story on SPACE.com.

    Copyright 2014 SPACE.com, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Mind-Blowing New Photos from Space

     

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    Updated Friday, Jan. 3, 2014, 2:16 p.m. ET
    Winter Weather
    Workers clear sidewalks of snow on Fifth Avenue, Friday, Jan. 3, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)​

    A snowstorm that dumped up to a foot of snow in the Midwest has moved east, where it merged with low pressure, bringing heavy snow and freezing temperatures to the Northeast. Residents from Michigan to Maine have had their lives disrupted.

    CONNECTICUT

    More than 200 accidents were reported in Connecticut, where the winter storm could bring record-breaking frigid temperatures. State police reported 224 accidents with 25 minor injuries and 2,719 calls for service by Friday morning. Much of the state received 4 to 8 inches of snow. The National Weather Service says the bitter cold will continue with temperatures expected to fall below zero overnight and could set a record.

    DELAWARE

    State and county government offices and public schools are closed after the storm dumped 2 to 7 inches of snow around the state. Winter storm warnings remain in effect statewide. Transportation officials warn that roads are not clear and they're are asking people to stay home if possible.

    DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

    Roads are being cleared and many schools systems are closed after the storm blew through Washington and surrounding areas overnight, leaving at least 2 inches of snow. The federal government and the District of Columbia government will be open Friday, but workers have the option to take leave or work from home.

    ILLINOIS

    Nearly 17 inches of snow fell Thursday in some of Chicago's northern suburbs, and more than 12 inches of snow was recorded at Midway International Airport. The temperature is expected to be a lingering problem. The National Weather Service says Chicago-area wind chills Monday and Tuesday could sink to 45 below zero.

    INDIANA

    The National Weather Service recorded lows of 10 below zero in Fort Wayne and Goshen on Friday morning. That set the coldest mark for the date ever recorded in Fort Wayne. The weather service says the 2-below zero temperature recorded in Indianapolis on Friday was that city's coldest since Jan. 21, 2011.

    MAINE

    Forecasters say the wind chill could make it feel like 45 degrees below zero on Friday in parts of northern Maine. Authorities warn that people who don't dress properly risk frostbite and hypothermia. Caribou hit 28 below early Thursday, breaking the old record of minus-20 for the date.

    MARYLAND

    Maryland officials are restricting traffic on several bridges, including the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, because of strong winds. The Maryland Transportation Authority reports sustained winds or gusts exceeding 50 mph Friday morning. That means only cars, pickup trucks, flatbed trailers, commercial buses and heavy-laden tractor trailers may cross.

    MASSACHUSETTS

    Massachusetts residents woke up to nearly 2 feet of snow in some areas and wind chills well below zero. The National Weather Service says the temperature in Boston was 2 degrees Friday morning but felt like 20-below. Boston had more than 13 inches of snow, with higher amounts north of the city, including 21 inches in Boxford.

    MICHIGAN

    Temperatures are in the single-digits across much of Michigan on Friday morning, with readings of 2 degrees below zero at Detroit Metropolitan Airport. The National WeatherService reports that the storm Tuesday through Thursday left 11.6 inches of snow in Wyandotte and 11.1 inches in Romulus, both in Metro Detroit. More snow is expected late Saturday and Sunday. And colder weather is forecast for Monday.

    NEW HAMPSHIRE

    The storm is expected to move out of the area later Friday, but the cold will linger. Wind chill readings are ranging from 15-below to 35-below zero, and more of the same is expected Friday night. Most flights Friday morning were canceled at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, and numerous schools remained closed for a second day.

    NEW JERSEY

    Mass transit is operating, but at a slower pace. Tickets bought for state-run rail, light rail or bus systems are being honored by all three transit modes. More than one-fourth of Friday's outgoing flights at Newark Liberty Airport have been canceled, according to the flight-tracking website FlightAware.

    NEW YORK

    Kennedy Airport is open, but flights have been suspended due to zero visibility and high winds. All New York City subways are running local for the start of the morning rush. Gov. Andrew Cuomo says local service will remain in effect until all the trains are moved from express tracks where they were stored underground overnight. Authorities say a woman with Alzheimer's disease froze to death after wandering away from her rural western New York home.

    OHIO

    Ohio got some of the coldest temperatures in the state in years Friday, with more snow and colder weather expected during the next few days. Temperatures in some areas were in single digits to start the day, with wind chills well below zero. Forecasters said wind chills in Cleveland could dip as low as 20-below. After a warm up Saturday and Sunday, temperatures will dive back down, with highs throughout the state from only zero to 5 for Monday

    PENNSYLVANIA

    Between 2 and 8 inches of snow was scattered across Pennsylvania on Friday morning. School children in Pittsburgh were asked to attend school two hours late. Gov. Tom Corbett also told state employees to report two hours late. In eastern Pennsylvania, most school districts, including Philadelphia and Allentown, were closed. Some pre-dawn temperatures were in the single digits. Authorities say a worker at a suburban Philadelphia road salt storage facility died when a 100-foot-tall pile of salt fell and crushed him on a backhoe.

    RHODE ISLAND

    The National Weather Service says temperatures were in the single digits around Rhode Island on Friday morning. The wind chill at T.F. Green Airport in Warwick fell to minus-20 overnight. Across the state, communities opened warming centers at libraries, senior centers and other buildings. Most schools were closed. Forecasters said snow totals were expected to be between 6 and 10 inches.

    VERMONT

    It was 8 degrees below zero in Burlington on Friday morning, with a wind chill of 29 below zero. The National Weather Service says there's a good chance of more snow showers Friday morning, with not much accumulation. Icy roads led to a car crash Thursday night in the town of St. Albans, in which rescue workers pulled an infant up a steep embankment.

    WEST VIRGINIA

    The National Weather Service says the temperature dropped to 7 degrees in Beckley on Friday morning. High temperatures in the teens were forecast for many areas, with the wind chill as low as 15 to 20 degrees below zero in the morning. There were reports of several traffic accidents on roads covered with ice and snow. Some areas in the eastern part of the state had up to 6 inches of snow. Many schools were closed or opening late.

    PHOTOS: First Winter Storm of 2014 Socks Northeast

     

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    Updated Friday, Jan. 3, 2014, 2:25 p.m. ET
    A plane takes off from Newark Liberty International Airport as trucks plow snow on the tarmac, Friday, Jan. 3, 2014, in Newark, N.J. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie declared state of emergency Thursday, urging residents to stay home. Schools were closed as temperatures reached below 20 degrees with wind-chills below zero in some places. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
    A plane takes off from Newark Liberty International Airport as trucks plow snow on the tarmac, Friday, Jan. 3, 2014, in Newark, N.J. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie declared a state of emergency Thursday, urging residents to stay home. Schools were closed as temperatures reached below 20 degrees with wind-chills below zero in some places. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

    NEW YORK (AP) - A winter storm slammed into the U.S. Northeast with howling winds and frigid cold, dumping nearly 2 feet of snow on some areas and whipping up blizzard-like conditions Friday. Eleven deaths have been blamed on the winter weather.

    By midday Friday, about 2,200 flights were canceled nationwide, according to the aviation tracking website FlightAware.com. Most were in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago and Washington, D.C.

    Governors in New York and New Jersey declared states of emergency, urging residents to stay at home. Hundreds of schools were shut down in Boston and New York, extending the holiday break for tens of thousands of students.

    "This is nothing to be trifled with," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. "People should seriously consider staying in their homes."

    The storm has led to at least 11 deaths as it sweeps across the eastern half of the U.S. Slick roads have caused traffic deaths in Michigan, Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois.

    A massive pile of salt fell on a worker at a Philadelphia storage facility, killing him. And authorities say a woman with Alzheimer's disease froze to death after she wandered away from her rural New York home.

    Forecasters said temperatures were plummeting to well below freezing, and wind chill readings could hit minus 10 Fahrenheit.

    Another wave of cold air already was moving through the Midwest after coming down from Canada.

    Outreach teams were searching streets in New York City and Boston for homeless people at risk of freezing to death.

    Some major highways in New York state were shut down overnight, and some commuter trains around New York City were operating on a reduced schedule.

    New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie ordered nonessential state workers to stay home Friday. State offices and courthouses were closed. State offices were also closed in Massachusetts.

    The heavy weather began rolling in Thursday, just a day after New York Mayor Bill de Blasio was sworn in to lead the nation's largest city.

    De Blasio, who in 2010 criticized predecessor Mayor Michael Bloomberg for his handling of a post-Christmas storm, said 1,700 snowplows and 450 salt spreaders hit the streets.

    "I feel great about the response," De Blasio said Friday after shoveling the sidewalk outside his Brooklyn home. "We are vigilant. We are not out of this yet."

    The snowstorm had worked its way east from the Midwest, where it dropped up to 17 inches in parts of Chicago.

    PHOTOS: First Winter Storm of 2014 Socks Northeast

     

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    Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014

    With the temperature a frightful 3 degrees Fahrenheit, Drue Ford shovels snow wearing a face mask to guard against frostbite, Friday, Jan. 3, 2014, in Brunswick, Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

    BOSTON (AP) - Homeowners and motorists dug out across the white-blanketed Northeast on Friday as extreme cold ushered in by the storm threatened fingers and toes but kept the snow powdery and mercifully easy to shovel. At least 16 deaths were linked to the storm as it swept across the nation's eastern half.

    While the snowfall had all but stopped by morning across the hard-hit Philadelphia-to-Boston corridor and many highways and streets were soon plowed and reopened, temperatures were in the single digits and teens, with wind chills well below zero.

    "The snow is easy to move because the air was so cold when it snowed that it's sort of light and fluffy stuff - but, uh, it's cold," Avalon "Nick" Minton said as he cleared the entrance to his garage and sidewalk in Arlington, Mass. "That's the main part. It's cold."

    And officials from the Midwest to New England are preparing for another arctic blast in the next few days that could be even worse.

    The heaviest snow fell north of Boston in Boxford, which received nearly 2 feet. Nearly 18 inches fell in Boston and in western New York near Rochester. Lakewood, N.J., got 10 inches, and New York's Central Park 6. Philadelphia got more than 6 inches.

    Temperatures reached 8 below zero in Burlington, Vt., with a wind chill of 29 below, and 2 degrees in Boston. Wind chills there and in Providence, R.I., made it feel like minus-20 Friday morning, and the forecast called for more of the same into Saturday.

    Emergency officials warned that anyone spending more than a few minutes outdoors in such conditions could suffer frostbite.

    Wellington Ferreira said the cold was worse than the snow as he cleared a sidewalk in front of Johnny D's Uptown Restaurant and Music Club in Somerville.

    "My ears are frozen," he said.

    Warming centers opened around the region, homeless shelters received more people, and cities took special measures to look after those most vulnerable to the cold. Teams in New York City searched the streets for homeless people, while in Boston police asked residents to call 911 if they saw someone in need.

    In Newport, R.I., the Seaman's Church Institute said it would stay open around the clock until the cold breaks to give mariners and others who work in or around the harbor a warm place to stay, shower and eat.

    The light, powdery snow was a blessing in another respect: It did not weigh down electrical lines or tree limbs, and as a result there were only a few thousand power outages across the Northeast.

    Slick roads were blamed for several traffic deaths. In addition, a 71-year-old woman with Alzheimer's disease froze to death after she wandered away from her rural western New York home. Officials in Minnesota and Wisconsin said deaths there were also linked to the cold. And a worker in Philadelphia was killed when a 100-foot-high pile of road salt fell and crushed him.

    Schools as far south as Washington, D.C., were closed on Friday. Many government offices also shut down.

    Major highways in and around New York City reopened, and airports across the region struggled to resume normal operations after U.S. airlines canceled around 2,200 flights on Friday on top of 2,300 the day before.

    Jeremy Shapiro, 73, of Manhattan, became stranded at New York's Kennedy Airport on Thursday. On Friday afternoon, he was still holding out hope for a spot flying standby so he could get to Santa Barbara, Calif.

    He secured a cot, a pillow and a blanket after seeing about 150 passengers sleeping on cots at the terminal.

    "It looked like an infirmary from WWI," he said.

    Severe cold also gripped the Midwest on Friday. In Wisconsin, the mercury dipped to minus-18 in Green Bay, breaking by 1 degree the record set in 1979. Fort Wayne, Ind., saw a record low minus-10. And the mercury sank to 2 below zero at the Detroit airport.

    Temperatures in the Midwest and the Northeast are expected to rise briefly over the weekend before the arrival of another blast of extraordinarily cold air.

    Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton ordered school canceled on Monday statewide, the first such closing in 17 years, because of projected highs in the minus teens and lows as cold as 30 below.

    The cold air could refreeze roads that are wet or slushy from the weekend thaw, making travel dangerous.

    The heavy weather posed the first big test for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was sworn in a day before the heavy snow arrived. De Blasio dispatched hundreds of plows and salt spreaders.

    "I feel great about the response," De Blasio said Friday after shoveling the sidewalk at his Brooklyn home. "We are vigilant. We are not out of this yet. As a great man said, 'It's not over until it's over.' "

    PHOTOS: First Winter Storm of 2014 Socks Northeast

     

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    Updated Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014, 3:14 p.m. ET

    Ice floats on the surface of Lake Michigan Friday, Jan. 3, 2014, in Chicago. Single-digit temperatures are hitting Illinois after the state was blanketed in snow. Meanwhile, residents are bracing for a deep freeze. Highs early next week likely won't reach zero and wind chills could sink to 45 below. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

    SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - It has been decades since parts of the Midwest experienced a deep freeze like the one expected to arrive Sunday, with potential record-low temperatures heightening fears of frostbite and hypothermia - even in a region where bundling up is second nature.

    This "polar vortex," as one meteorologist calls it, is caused by a counterclockwise-rotating pool of cold, dense air. The frigid air, piled up at the North Pole, will be pushed down to the U.S., funneling it as far south as the Gulf Coast.

    Ryan Maue, of Tallahassee, Fla., a meteorologist for Weather Bell, said records will likely be broken during the short yet forceful deep freeze - a perfect combination of the jet stream, cold surface temperatures and the polar vortex - that will begin Sunday and extend into early next week.

    "All the ingredients are there for a near-record or historic cold outbreak," he said "If you're under 40 (years old), you've not seen this stuff before."

    Before the polar plunge, Saturday marked the day Earth is the closest it gets to the sun each year. The planet orbits the sun in an oval and on average is about 93 million miles away. But every January, Earth is at perihelion, and on Saturday, it was only 91.4 million miles from the sun.

    But that proximity doesn't affect the planet's temperatures, and the predictions are startling: 25 below zero in Fargo, N.D., minus 31 in International Falls, Minn., and 15 below in Indianapolis and Chicago. At those temperatures, exposed skin can get frostbitten in minutes and hypothermia can quickly set in as wind chills may reach 50, 60 or even 70 below zero.

    Even wind chills of 25 below zero can do serious damage, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Scott Truett in St. Louis.

    "Those are dangerous levels of wind chill," he said of the expected wind chill in Missouri at daybreak Monday. "A person not properly dressed could die easily in those conditions."

    The cold will sweep through parts of New England, too, where residents are digging out from a snowstorm. And fresh powder is expected in parts of the central Midwest and South starting Saturday night - up to a foot in eastern Missouri, 6 to 8 inches in central Illinois, 8 or more inches in western Kentucky and a half-foot to a foot in southwestern Michigan.

    Snow will reduce the sun's heating effect, so nighttime lows will plummet because of strong northwest winds that will deliver the Arctic blast, Maue said. There's no warming effect from the Gulf to counteract the cold air, he said.

    Even places accustomed to mild and warmer winters will be affected early next week, including Atlanta where Tuesday's high is expected to hover in the mid-20s.

    Sunday's NFL playoff game in Green Bay could be among one of the coldest ever played - a frigid minus 2 degrees when the Packers and San Francisco 49ers kickoff at Lambeau Field. And ice skaters in Des Moines, Iowa, won't be able to use an outdoor rink, as officials decided to shut it down Sunday and Monday.

    States are trying to get ahead of the storm, with Minnesota calling off school Monday for the entire state - the first such closing in 17 years - as well as the Wisconsin cities of Milwaukee and Madison.

    Though this cold spell will last just a few days, it likely will freeze over the Great Lakes and other bodies of water, meaning frigid temperatures probably won't go away for the rest of the winter, Maue said. He also noted that it's relatively uncommon to have such frigid air blanket so much of the U.S., maybe once a decade or every couple of decades.

    But so far, this winter is proving to be a cold one.

    "Right now for the winter, we will have had two significant shots of major Arctic air and we're only through the first week of January. And we had a pretty cold December," Maue said.

    PHOTOS: First Winter Storm of 2014 Socks Northeast

     

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