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Record Cold Air Lingers Over The East

November 22, 1987

Undated (AP) _ Overnight lows dropped to freezing Sunday as far south as the northern edge of Florida in the second day of an unusually early and severe cold snap, chasing the homeless to shelters and causing at least one death from exposure.

The coldest official reporting station in the lower 48 states was not Cut Bank, Mont., or International Falls, Minn., or Caribou, Maine, but Elkins, W.Va., a mountain college town on the same latitude as Washington, D.C. It had a record low of just 5 degrees.

Unofficially, some spots were colder, with readings at or near zero elsewhere in the mountains of West Virginia and New York state.

Temperatures were in the teens Sunday morning from the upper Ohio Valley into New England, and wind gusting to between 25 to 35 mph made it feel like 10 to 20 degrees below zero, the National Weather Service said.

One man died of exposure in New York City, police said.

About 10 homeless people spent the night in the lobby of a police station at Providence, R.I., where Sunday’s low was a record-tying 16.

An overnight low of 16 in Boston had officials driving around the city in vans to pick up homeless people who wanted to go to shelters. ″We know where a lot of the folks are in their haunts,″ said Ann Maguire of the city Emergency Shelter Commission.

The windy, 20-degree weather forced the homeless to seek shelter in hundreds of private and public shelters in Philadelphia, said James Walker, a social service supervisor with the city’s Adult Services. He could not provide figures.

″Yesterday was our busiest day of the year,″ Walker said Sunday. ″All of the shelters were basically filled, and we expect to remain busy until this weather lets up.″

Elsewhere in Pennsylvania, the cold caused problems for people who were outside by choice. In the Lehigh Valley, several spectators at the Lehigh University-Lafayette football game Saturday were taken to St. Luke’s Hospital for treatment of frostbite, according to a hospital spokeswoman.

More people than usual crowded into the city mission in Buffalo, N.Y., where it was in the teens early Sunday, 125 people compared to the usual 80 or so, said the Rev. Jerome Spaeth.

Several shelters around central Virginia said they were at capacity, but one official said that, suprisingly, they turn away more people in the summer. Marge L. Bailey, program director for Emergency Shelter Inc., said landlords are more likely to evict when it’s warm and families are more likely to help a homeless relative when it’s cold.

Record lows Sunday included 12 at Binghampton, N.Y.; 24 at Greenville- Spartan burg, S.C.; 25 at Montgomery, Ala.; 19 at Newark, N.J.; and 13 at Syracuse, N.Y., the weather service said.

For Pittsburgh, Saturday was the coldest Nov. 21 on record, with the high for the day rising only to 24, one degree below the former record set in 1880.

In the Deep South, all but the coastal areas of Mississippi and Georgia had freezing temperatures early Sunday. Atlanta’s average temperature Saturday was only 39, 11 degrees below normal.

The 15th annual Maryland Marathon got under way Sunday in Baltimore with the temperature in the low 30s. The more than 400 runners were advised to have extra layers of clothes ready to be handed to them as their energy levels fell. The event had been moved up this year in an effort to have it in warmer weather.

Saturday’s cold and waves of snow squalls led Baltimore to cancel its Thanksgiving Day parade, but Saturday night people lined the streets of Norfolk, Va., for the annual Holidays in the City parade. The temperature was at freezing but 25 mph wind made it feel like 10 degrees.

″My ears are freezing,″ complained Catherine Oliver, 6, as she snuggled in the lap of her father, Norfolk City Manager James B. Oliver Jr., in the back seat of an open car in the parade.

″I’m thinking heat wave,″ a young woman clad only in a light dress and earmuffs shouted from a float.

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