Record-breaking cold in U.S. Midwest heads to frigid East Coast

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 19, 2015 10:59 AM

By Mary Wisniewski

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Bone-chilling cold in the U.S. Midwest shattered records in Chicago on Thursday, closing schools and starting its trudge eastward to an already frozen Boston and New York.

Arctic air was expected to keep its grip on the nation's midsection on Friday morning, a day after the minus 8 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 22 Celsius) measured in Chicago broke the low temperature record of minus 7 degrees for the day set in 1936, said National Weather Service meteorologist Bob Oravec.

The wind chill made temperatures in Chicago feel like minus 25, he said.

Chicago public schools, serving 396,000 students in the third largest U.S. school district, canceled classes on Thursday.

Many Chicago commuters were bundled so heavily that only their eyes could be seen.

But not everyone hates the weather. Teejay Riedl, 54, was filming the steam rising from the Chicago River before work.

"I love it. It's crisp, it's clean, there are no bugs," he said.

Riedl moved to Chicago from Washington, D.C., during the summer and he prefers the cold to D.C.'s steamy summers.

Bitter cold was headed east, meaning a frosty Friday morning commute was in store for East Coast residents ranging from Boston down to Richmond, Virginia, Oravec said. He expected more records would be broken along the East Coast.

Already, it has been cold enough in New York this week to bring the roaring Niagara Falls to a halt, as parts of the waterfall trio on the Canadian border froze over, leaving long spears of ice cascading down from the falls' edges and glacier-like mounds rising up from their plunge pools.

Even busy New York Harbor was icing over and a tugboat was called in to break the ice and clear a pathway for commuters aboard the Staten Island Ferry.

Still a month away from spring, cabin fever appears to have taken hold in Boston, which broke its own record this week for the snowiest February in the city's history. Residents in Boston, which has had more than 8 feet (2.4 meters) of snow this winter, are using the social media hashtag #BostonBlizzardChallenge to share videos of themselves - wearing only swimsuits - diving into snow banks.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh was not amused by the high dives taken from porches, car roofs, stairs and even second-story windows.

"I'm asking people to stop the nonsense right now - these are adults jumping out windows. It's a foolish thing to do and you could kill yourself," Walsh said at a press conference late Wednesday.

(Reporting by Mary Wisniewski in Chicago; Additional reporting by Laila Kearney and Barbara Goldberg in New York; Editing by Bill Trott)