Dangerous cold sets in as heavy snow blankets US Northeast

Dangerous cold sets in as heavy snow blankets US Northeast
A police vehicle drives through a flooded street during a winter nor'easter snow storm in Scituate, Massachusetts January 3, 2014.

BOSTON/NEW YORK - People across the northeastern United States on Friday dug out after a heavy snowfall that grounded thousands of flights, closed schools and government offices, caused several deaths and left the region in the grip of bitter cold.

Boston was hard hit by the first major winter storm of 2014, getting nearly 18 inches of snow, while some towns north of New England's largest city saw close to 2 feet of accumulation.

Major cities from Washington, D.C., to Portland, Maine, were slammed, with New York's Manhattan Island getting 6 inches of snow and parts of Queens seeing more than 10 inches of fresh powder.

While plows made easy work of the powdery snow to clear roads and runways, authorities warned residents to expect unusually cold weather across the Midwest and Northeast.

Embarrass, Minnesota, notched a reading of minus 36 Fahrenheit (minus 38 Celsius) that stood as the lowest temperature recorded in the United States outside Alaska on Friday, according to the National Weather Service.

"Temperatures tonight and tomorrow are expected to be extremely low, and dangerously so," Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick said. "These are dangerous conditions."

The forecast overnight low for Boston was minus 4F (minus 20C) while New York looked for a low of 3F (minus 16C).

New York City's Department of Homeless Services went to "code blue," doubling the number of vans patrolling streets to seek people who needed shelter and streamlining the check-in process for homeless shelters.

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