The Latest: Alaska gets balmy temps while others freeze

AP News
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Posted: Jan 02, 2018 8:36 PM
The Latest:  Alaska gets balmy temps while others freeze

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Latest on the dangerously cold temperatures gripping much of the U.S. (all times local):

6:45 p.m.

A large swath of the U.S. is freezing under Alaska-like weather, but parts of the nation's northernmost state itself are basking in balmy conditions.

Tuesday's official temperature hit 44 degrees in Anchorage, tying the daily high mark that was set in 1981 and matched in 2011. At the same time Tuesday, the temperature in Jacksonville, Florida, was a mere 38 degrees.

National Weather Service meteorologist Michael Kurtz says the Anchorage temperature was nearly twice the normal high of 24 degree, thanks to high and low pressures working to push tropical air to the north.

But the warm weather won't last long. Kurtz says temperatures are expected to drop Tuesday night and not be above freezing on Wednesday.

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3:25 p.m.

Texas officials are redoubling efforts to help the homeless amid freezing temperatures.

The National Weather Service issued a hard freeze warning until Wednesday morning for parts of Central Texas, including Austin and south to San Antonio. A freeze warning for South Texas included McAllen, Edinburg, Pharr and Weslaco.

Tuesday's deep freeze stretched across a wide swath of the U.S., from South Texas to Canada and from Montana through New England. In Texas, freezing temperatures were reported in Amarillo, Lubbock, Dallas, Austin and Houston.

Organizations assisting the homeless fanned out Tuesday across Houston to provide blankets and other warm gear.

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1:40 p.m.

A Tennessee prison lost its main heating source on a frigid New Year's Day, and officials are trying to keep inmates and employees warm with extra blankets and portable heaters.

Tennessee Department of Correction spokeswoman Neysa Taylor says Riverbend Maximum Security Institution lost hot water pressure Monday, causing its boiler to go offline. The staff is assessing what caused the pressure loss and hasn't provided a timeline for its return.

Bobby Straughter, Assistant Commissioner of Operations, says crews worked overnight in extreme conditions to ensure everyone's safety.

Assistant Commissioner of Prisons David Sexton said the staff and inmates have been extremely understanding and cooperative.

State data show the maximum security facility held 787 inmates as of Nov. 30. It houses all of the state's male death row offenders.

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1:25 p.m.

Arctic temperatures are causing problems on waterways — for both waterfowl and boats.

Firefighters in Richmond, Virginia, freed a swan that was stuck for hours Monday in the middle of a frozen pond. Firefighters put a boat into the frozen pond near an apartment complex and broke up the ice around the swan, which eventually climbed up the embankment.

And in New York, The Poughkeepsie Journal reports that transportation officials suspended the Newburgh-Beacon commuter ferry service on Tuesday because of icy conditions on the Hudson River.

Poughkeepsie saw a record-breaking low of minus 10 degrees (-12 Celsius) on New Year's Day.

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12:35 p.m.

The National Weather Service says it was the coldest New Year's Day on record in Chicago with a high of 1 degree (-17 Celsius).

The bitter cold is continuing Tuesday, with wind chills forecast between minus 35 degrees (-37 Celsius) and negative 20 (-39 Celsius) in the Chicago area.

Forecasters are warning of frost bite and hypothermia risks and urging residents to take precautions, including wearing layers and a hat and gloves, covering exposed skin and bringing pets indoors.

The weather service has issued wind chill warnings for northwestern and central Illinois and wind chill advisories for the Chicago area and parts of central and southern Illinois.

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11:10 a.m.

Bitterly cold temperatures are causing troubles across a wide swath of the U.S., including in an Iowa city where the water tower froze.

The Waterloo suburb of Evansdale lost water service for a time Monday after temperatures fell to minus 20 degrees (-29 Celsius). Mayor Doug Faas (fahs) said Tuesday that water is being run directly from the wells into the system, bypassing the suspected ice blockage in the tower.

A city staffer is expected to climb the tower later Tuesday to see what's wrong and determine how to fix the problem.

In the northwest Indiana city of Lafayette, residents began hearing a hum that Duke Energy says is caused by extra power surging through utility lines to meet power demands during the Arctic blast. Monday's low fell to minus 16 degrees at the National Weather Service's Purdue Airport station in adjacent West Lafayette.

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9:37 a.m.

The bone-chilling cold gripping much of the U.S. is breaking century-old records and is being blamed on several deaths.

The National Weather Service issued wind chill advisories and freeze warnings Tuesday covering a vast area from South Texas to Canada and from Montana through New England.

Authorities opened warming shelters in the South as temperatures dipped notably close to zero in Alabama and Georgia.

In Aberdeen, South Dakota, the mercury dropped to a record-breaking minus 32 (-36 Celsius). The city's previous New Year's Day record had stood for 99 years.

It's even cold in the Deep South, as temperatures plummeted early Tuesday to 14 (-10 Celsius) in Atlanta and 26 (-3 Celsius) as far south as New Orleans.

The cold is blamed in at least nine deaths in the past week.