Northeast US wakes up to record cold for Valentine's Day

2016-02-15 05:15
Water shoots up between boards on a pier in San Leon, Texas. (Stuart Villanueva, AP)

Water shoots up between boards on a pier in San Leon, Texas. (Stuart Villanueva, AP)

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New York - Much of the northeastern United States found itself in the not-so-warm embrace of teeth-chattering, record-shattering cold on Valentine's Day.

Cities throughout the northeast saw record low temperatures on Sunday including New York; Boston; Providence, Rhode Island; and Hartford, Connecticut.

The National Weather Service said the temperature in New York City's Central Park fell to minus-18.5°C, a record low for the date. The last time it got below minus-18°C in Central Park was in January 1994.

"I'm dumb enough to do this," exclaimed John Male before starting a 19km park run on Sunday morning.

"I just always come out and I just decided not to do anything differently" - except to wear a furry tiger hat over his winter hat, in addition to four layers of clothing.

Boston reached minus-23°C, breaking the record set in 1934 of minus-18.5°C. It reached minus-26.5°C in Worcester, Massachusetts, breaking the 1979 record of 24 below zero°C. Providence hit minus-23°C and Hartford minus-24.5°C, also breaking records from 1979.

In Montpelier, Vermont, the overnight temperature hit minus-28.5°C, tying a record set in 2003.

Temperatures were expected to climb before a winter storm already bringing snow to the Midwest moves into the region for the start of the work week. That storm was expected to bring at least a couple of inches of snow in some areas, plus possible icy conditions to the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast on Monday.

The storm was expected to bring 12.5cm of snow to parts of Kentucky and up to 15cm to parts of Tennessee before turning to rain.

Weather service meteorologist Jay Engel said New York City will emerge from the record-breaking cold by Sunday afternoon. But whoever ventured out between Saturday evening and Sunday morning was hit by wind gusts that in some spots reached 64km/h, bringing the wind chill to at least minus-29°C.

In parts of the northeastern New England states, shelters opened for residents who lost power and were left without heat. About 8 000 customers were without power Sunday morning in Lynn, Massachusetts. About 1 400 people lost power in northeastern Vermont, where temperatures dropped to 20 below F (29° below C) on Sunday, and officials opened municipal buildings to help chilled residents.

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