Bone-chilling cold stretches from north to south US

Associated Press


Hoods were up and heads were down as a storm that plagued the Midwest for days plodded eastward Tuesday with knifing winds and blowing snow, stranding dozens of motorists on a southern Ontario highway and giving much of the northeastern U.S. its first real taste of winter.

The storm brought bone-chilling cold, and more snow was expected or already falling Tuesday in parts of Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York. The frigid air stretched into the deep South, where hard-freeze warnings were in effect overnight in much of Florida. Hundreds of schools were closed or opening late.

About 300 people spent a frigid night hunkered down in their cars on a highway near Sarnia, Ontario, about 65 miles northeast of Detroit. They were rescued by buses and military helicopters Tuesday, Canadian officials said. Ontario Community Safety Minister Jim Bradley said he had no reports of deaths or injuries among the stranded.

Colin Steward spent 25 hours stuck in his car, napping, phoning relatives and updating Facebook from his BlackBerry, the 50-year-old said Tuesday in a phone interview from his car.

“What can I do?,” he said. “I’m not impressed — it’s Canada.”

The blowing snow and road closures forced even a ski hill in northern Ontario, the Blue Mountain resort, to close.

In New York, state officials closed sections of two major roadways outside Rochester for about two hours Tuesday afternoon after accidents on snowy roads.

More than 10 inches of new snow had fallen at the Rochester airport by Tuesday morning, but flights were taking off and landing on schedule.

Buffalo is used to getting thumped by lake-effect storms coming off Lake Erie.

With temperatures in the teens, Felix Puyarena rode his bike about a mile over cleared streets to get to a subway station. The native of Puerto Rico has lived in Buffalo 10 years and knows the keys to surviving winter: hat, sunglasses, hood and a scarf that covered his face entirely.

After a full day of snowfall, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown issued a driving advisory just in time for the evening commute, asking people not to make unnecessary trips that might hamper plow crews. The city had gotten 41/2 inches of new snow by the afternoon, the National Weather Service said.

In northern Ohio, the wintry blast made driving risky and pushed some university exams to Christmas week. In Cleveland, where up to 2 feet of snow already has fallen in parts of the snow belt east of the city, as much as 9 more inches could fall before a storm warning expires this morning.