Welcome to the 'Icebox of the Nation!' Minnesota town hits a record at 40 below zero
Eds: UPDATES with electricity cuts in Mo., W.Va. ADDS contributor line.
By JEFF BAENEN
Associated Press Writer
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- It lived up to its name: The temperature in International Falls fell to 40 below zero Monday, just a few days after the northern Minnesota town won a federal trademark making it officially the "Icebox of the Nation."
It was so cold that resident Nick McDougall couldn't get his car trunk to close after he got out his charger to kick-start his dead battery. By late morning, the temperature had risen all the way to 18 -- below zero.
"This is about as cold as it gets, this is bad. There's no wind -- it's just cold," said McDougall, 48, a worker at The Fisherman, a convenience store and gas station in the town on the Canadian border. "People just don't go out, unless you have to go to work."
Residents of the area use electric engine block heaters to keep their cars from freezing.
"You plug in your car, for sure, and you put the car in the garage if you can," McDougall said. His garage is full of other things, so he had to park outside -- a "big mistake."
The previous record low for Feb. 11 in International Falls was 37 below, set in 1967, said meteorologist Mike Stewart at the weather service in Duluth.
The temperature also fell to 40 below in Embarrass, 80 miles southeast of International Falls. That's just one degree above the all-time record in Minneapolis, 250 miles to the south, that was set in January 1888, the weather service said.
It was also a cold day in Winter. The town in northwest Wisconsin chilled to a low of 25 below.
"You don't want to be out there too long," said Winter area resident Bill Warner, 37.
The chilly air also blew into the Northeast on Monday and many schools in New York state between Buffalo and Syracuse closed or opened late. Single-digit temperatures plus wind drove the wind chill factor to nearly 20 below across much of upstate New York.
New York state got more than 3 feet of lake-effect snow Monday along the east end of Lake Ontario as the cold wind picked up moisture from the lake. "The highway crews are having a difficult time keeping up with the amount of snow and blowing conditions," said Oswego Town Supervisor Victoria Mullen.
South of the coldest air mass, freezing rain hit southwest Missouri, making roads hazardous and closing schools. Ice was more than an inch thick in places, authorities said. Several thousand lost electricity in the Springfield area when lines iced over and ice-covered limbs crashed onto power lines.
"It's treacherous" Missouri Highway Patrol Sgt. Dan Bracker said in Springfield.
As the precipitation moved eastward out of Missouri, the weather service posted winter storm and snow warnings for parts of Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio.
Hundreds of West Virginia homes and businesses had no electricity Monday, down from several thousand, after weekend wind gusts of up to 55 mph. At least nine counties closed schools because of power outages and the cold. The mountain city of Elkins had a low of 6 above.
Classes also were canceled Monday for a number of schools in Michigan, which remained in a deep freeze after a weekend of single-digit temperatures and gusty wind. One death was blamed on the weather there.
Associated Press writer Marcus Kabel in Springfield, Mo., contributed to this report.