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Bitter Cold Grips Northeast

January 18, 2000

Temperatures dropped into the basement again today in the Northeast in a cold wave that’s producing a bitter reality check in an otherwise mild winter.

Just two weeks ago, some people in the region went outside in T-shirts to play golf in 60-degree weather.

Volunteer cooperative observers reported lows today in northern Vermont of 38 below zero at Enosburg Falls, and minus 33 at Sutton, the National Weather Service said.

``This is typical January, middle-of-the-winter stuff,″ said Jason Neilson at the weather service office in Burlington, Vt.

Still, it was so cold that the Olympic Regional Development Authority at Lake Placid, N.Y., couldn’t even make ice for 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.

That didn’t stop skiers. Observers at the summit of Whiteface Mountain, a ski area not far from Lake Placid, reported a low Monday of 33 below _ 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 any customers. ``They were 512 more people than I expected to find on the mountain,″ she said.

In addition to Vermont, temperatures below zero also were common today across the rest of the Northeast.

Although no records were set today, Saranac Lake, N.Y., reported 29 below zero; the northern New Hampshire town of Berlin dropped to 28 below zero, and Allagash, Maine, hit 21 below, the 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’s been three years since it was this frigid.

``It was cold, but we’ve dealt with it before,″ Debbie Payeur, a receptionist for the Berlin public schools, said of this morning chill.

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.

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