IMAGE: COLD NEW YORK CITY COMMUTERS
Brendan Mcdermid  /  Reuters
Morning commuters walk through steam from a drainpipe during the morning rush in New York City on Tuesday. The New York area was hit again with subfreezing temperatures.
updated 2/6/2007 2:33:19 PM ET 2007-02-06T19:33:19

Thousands of youngsters got a second day off from school Tuesday in the midst of a bitter cold snap that combined with heavy snow several feet deep along the Great Lakes.

At least seven deaths were blamed on the weather.

Cold air surging from the Arctic stretched from the northern Plains through New England, and temperatures were below zero as far south as the mountains of West Virginia, but slightly milder weather was on the way.

Dozens of school districts in western and central New York closed for a second day, including Buffalo and the 34,000-student Rochester district, because of the cold and locally heavy snow.

Rochester had a late morning temperature of 13 degrees, but wind whipping through the city at 22 mph made it feel like 5 below zero, the National Weather Service said.

The wind also picked up moisture from the Great Lakes and turned it into 3 to 4 feet of snow on New York state’s rural Tug Hill region, downwind from Lake Ontario.

The city of Fulton got 7 inches of snow in a two-hour period during the night, and at one point crews stopped plowing because the snow was falling too fast.

“It’s horrible driving,” said Chris Sachel, who owns Mimi’s Drive-In Restaurant, just north of Fulton. “Pretty much the only people we’ve seen this morning are the plow drivers. They’re about the only ones who can get around.”

Slippery Midwest
Snow also made roads slippery across part of the Midwest. In the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, a pileup on Interstate 35 involved four tractor-trailer rigs and several cars, the State Patrol said.

With a Tuesday morning low of 6 degrees below zero, Milwaukee kept its schools closed for a second day, idling some 90,000 children. On Monday, the city fell to 12 below with a wind chill of 31 below.

Hundreds of Michigan schools also remained closed on Tuesday.

Temperatures had started easing Tuesday in places where the cold was the worst. After Monday’s low of 38 below zero, the northern Minnesota town of Hallock reported a Tuesday morning reading of just 9 below, the National Weather Service said.

‘Coldest of it is over,’ forecaster says
“It’s bitterly cold ... (but) the coldest of it is over,” said Mark Ratzer, a senior forecaster with the National Weather Service in Romeoville, Ill., near Chicago. The Tuesday morning reading at O’Hare International Airport was zero, compared to minus 10 some 24 hours earlier.

Pockets of intense cold lingered, however, including 29 below Tuesday at International Falls, Minn., snug up against the Canadian border, and minus 20 at Ironwood, Mich.

Video: Fighting fires in cold weather Homeless shelters tried to keep the most vulnerable people safe. Repairers of the Breach, a daytime facility for the homeless in Milwaukee, had expanded to 24-hour operation since Friday as the temperature plunged below zero. The shelter doesn’t have beds but provides blankets, pillows and meals for people who had nowhere else to go because other shelters were full, said MacCanon Brown, executive director. Fifty-one people stayed there Sunday night.

“Once this cold spell hit, we were just so aware that there are so many people outside or in unheated places,” Brown said. “We know that there would be a lot of deaths and terrible frostbite and hypothermia if we weren’t open.”

Xcel Energy asked customers in North Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, South Dakota and Wisconsin to conserve electricity over the next few days to reduce strain on the power grid. The company said it has enough electricity supplies “but it is possible that electricity reserves could tighten as people begin to use more during evening hours.”

Pipes freeze in Chicago
The cold was too much for plumbing across Chicago, and crews were sent to more than 1,000 reports of frozen pipes, city officials said.

It also strained vehicle batteries, prompting numerous calls for help from motorists. “The total for yesterday, and this is a record for recent years, is 9,239 calls for assistance,” AAA Michigan spokeswoman Nancy Cain said Tuesday.

The cold contributed to two deaths in Kentucky, two in Michigan, and one each in Maryland, Ohio and Illinois, authorities reported.

In Maryland, 81-year-old Annie Mae Anderson of Silver Spring, who suffered from dementia and was found Monday in a wooded area. She apparently had wandered away from her house without a coat and appeared to have died from exposure to the cold, said Montgomery County police Lt. Eric Burnett.

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Video: Bitter cold snap becomes deadly

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