No relief from winter: Cold lingers over much of country

AP News
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Posted: Feb 18, 2015 9:01 PM
No relief from winter: Cold lingers over much of country

Low temperatures gripped much of the South, Mid-Atlantic and Northeast on Wednesday, freezing and refreezing snow and ice and making roads hazardous for those who'd ventured out. In many areas, the cold was expected to stay for days.

The refreeze has already played out over and over in New England, where mountains of snow are piled high. Here's a look at how people are handling the weather:

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RUSH HOUR WARNINGS

In the Baltimore-Washington region, officials urged commuters to leave early and avoid a snowy rush hour.

Forecasts called for a possible 1 to 2 inches of snow between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m., with low visibility, high winds, and falling temperatures. Combined, that can make for slick roads and dangerous driving conditions.

Transportation officials say it's bad timing for a snowstorm.

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SHOULD WE WORK?

In Kentucky, Democrats and Republicans can't even agree on whether to work in the snowstorm.

House Democrats on Wednesday canceled meetings for the rest of the week, but Senate Republicans announced they would meet.

Forecasters expected the snow to stop on Wednesday, but temperatures could drop to as low as minus-16 degrees Thursday. Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo said many House members were concerned "about leaving their families in these conditions."

"We think it is more prudent to be safe than sorry," he said.

Republican Senate President Robert Stivers shot back: "We understand the hardships associated with current weather conditions, but there are plenty of businesses staying open throughout the Commonwealth and the Senate feels inclined to stay in business as well."

TOILET SNOWPLOW

Talk about a pooper scooper.

A man in suburban Washington, D.C., attached a plow to the motorized toilet, which he had already made for a parade this past summer.

David Goldberg of Rockville, Maryland calls the contraption "Loo-cy," and it comes complete with a toilet paper stand and a magazine rack.

Goldberg posted a YouTube video of himself sitting on the commode while plowing about 4 inches of snow Tuesday in front of a hardware store he owns in Bethesda, Maryland.

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WINTER WINS AGAIN

Remember that New York tourism office website that suggested potential visitors should go to the Florida Keys?

Well, its website crashed.

Bruce Stoff of the Ithaca-Tompkins County Convention and Visitors Bureau says nearly 150,000 views crashed the site on Tuesday afternoon.

On Sunday, Visitithaca.com posted images of Key West and provided links to Florida Keys websites. The site said, "We surrender" and "Winter, you win" and suggested that a visit to Key West was a better option than frozen central New York.

The upside: Stoff says his office fielded numerous inquiries about tourism in upstate New York.

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DON'T JUMP

Boston residents overwhelmed by massive snowfalls the last month have been recording videos of themselves jumping out of windows and into snowbanks, and Mayor Marty Walsh wants them to cut it out.

Walsh chastised thrill-seekers who've been filming themselves performing the frosty feat and then posting the videos on social media websites.

Walsh says, "It's a foolish thing to do, and you could kill yourself."

He says Boston "isn't Loon Mountain," a New Hampshire ski resort. He said Monday the stunts are dangerous as city workers struggle to clear snow-clogged streets and deal with snowbanks 10 feet high.

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ROOF RAGE

Massachusetts officials are stepping up warnings about the potential for roofs to collapse under the weight of snow that has built up in recent weeks.

Public Safety Commissioner Thomas Gatzunis said owners of residential and commercial buildings should be aware of signs of stress on roofs, including ceilings that are sagging or developing cracks.

Other signs could include popping or cracking sounds from the roof or attic area, and doors or windows that either won't open or suddenly open on their own.

Numerous partial roof collapses have been reported in the state — including at a Kmart store and a high school — but no serious injuries as of Wednesday.

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MORE COLD FOR CAROLINAS

The cold snap affected just about everyone in the Carolinas: Schools closed, people worried about tree limbs falling on homes or pipes bursting, and shelters took in more homeless people.

In Greenville, South Carolina, Frank Marshall prepared for the deep freeze, bounding from store to store Wednesday looking for bags of rock salt to help melt the ice in his driveway. No luck: Every place was out.

"Nobody has a thing," said Marshall, 67, a retired truck driver. "You go inside and everything is about spring. Nobody expected this,"

But he joked that if his power goes out, he won't have to worry about his refrigerated food: "I'll just put everything outside."

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WARMTH IN THE WEST

While much of the rest of the country shivered, the Pacific Northwest experienced a different kind of February, with record-breaking high temperatures. Flowers blossomed, bees buzzed, and the sky was blue. Temperatures have crept north of 60 degrees. But low temperatures have meant headaches for skiers and snowboarders. Nearly all ski resorts in western Washington have partially or completely closed — there's not enough snow.