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Arctic blasts' icy fingers grasp northeastern United States

Reuters logo Reuters 12/17/2016 By Scott Malone
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A blast of Arctic air grasped the northeastern United States on Friday, bringing Boston the coldest temperatures for this day in more than a century, prompting school closings and officials to warn residents to cover up or stay indoors.

An Arctic front will combine with a storm flowing across the Rocky Mountains on Friday, according to a National Weather Service advisory. Extreme conditions in many parts of the country will continue into Saturday, it said, with snowfall but slightly milder temperatures expected in the Northeast.

Boston's morning low of 4 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 16 Celsius) was the coldest for this date since 1883, when the mercury dipped to 1 Fahrenheit (minus 17 Celsius), according to the National Weather Service.

"We definitely have a blast of Arctic air," said Lenore Correia, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Taunton, Massachusetts, just outside Boston. "We have a really strong northern flow of air and it's pulling cold air down from Canada to New England and much of the country."

Wind chill and winter storm warnings were in effect for much of the northern United States - as far west as Montana and Idaho through the Midwest to New York, Massachusetts and Maine.

Schools were closed in Worcester and Lowell, Massachusetts, due to the frigid conditions.

People walk bundled up from the cold through Times Square in New York

People walk bundled up from the cold through Times Square in New York
© REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Outside Boston's South Station commuter hub, 47-year-old Keith Donovan was bundled in multiple layers, with much of his face covered by a wrap as he waited for a bus to take him to his office.

"This is New England, so we expect cold, but this is a little worse than we usually get at this time of year," said Donovan, a resident of Bridgeport, Massachusetts.

Snowfall of 3 inches to 5 inches (8 to 13 cm) was forecast for Friday in Chicago, with snow due for New England on Saturday.

While the northeast was expected to warm over the weekend, forecasters warned Midwesterners to brace for another icy blast.

Temperatures in Chicago were expected to plummet below 2F(-17C) on Sunday, possibly breaking the 1983 record for the coldest game ever played in that city's Soldier Field NFL stadium.

Bears players practiced outside for over an hour on Thursday in 1F (-17C) weather.

"I've told them the macho stuff's all great, but there comes a point where people might question your intelligence," coach John Fox told reporters when asked about players not wearing long sleeve shirts under their jerseys on Sunday.

(Additional reporting by Timothy McLaughlin in Chicago and Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

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