MONTPELIER, Vermont — Train equipment froze, cars sputtered, schools canceled classes and cold-weather enthusiasts opted to stay inside Monday as a bitter blast of below-0 degrees Fahrenheit temperatures and minus-50 degrees Fahrenheit wind chills gripped the U.S. Northeast.
The gasp-inducing cold tested the mettle even of New Englanders, who pride themselves on winter hardiness.
Vast swaths of Canada were also in a deep freeze Monday as Environment Canada issued a winter warning for much of the country, including warnings of extreme wind chills in New Brunswick.
Schools in western and northeastern Pennsylvania, across upstate New York and parts of Vermont and New Hampshire closed their doors or delayed openings to protect students from temperatures that dropped to minus 27 degrees Fahrenheit or even lower.
Amtrak suspended passenger train service between Albany and New York City, saying the extreme cold affected signals and switches. It hoped to resume service Tuesday when temperatures were forecast to rise.
In New York, the city doubled the number of outreach vans it sends out looking for homeless people in such cold, checking on street people every two hours.
In Providence, Rhode Island, temperature dipped to minus 1 Fahrenheit early Monday, the first below-zero reading there in six years, the National Weather Service said.
Even hat-shy teenagers were taking precautions.
"It's hard to get teenagers to bundle up, but even they're putting on their hats this morning," said Tim Scott, director of development at Fryeburg Academy in Maine, where it hit minus 28 degrees Fahrenheit.Story: Digging out the snowiest cities in America
Skiers said "no thanks" at some resorts. At Maine's Sugarloaf, where a ski lift recently failed in windy weather and sent some riders to the hospital, the combination of cold and wind caused operators to shut down lifts to the summit. Four lower lifts were still running, however.
"We have a few people skiing — not many," said resort spokesman Ethan Austin. "There's a few hardy folks who want to get their turns in, no matter what."
Others took it in stride.
"It's a winter day in Maine," said Maude Gardner, of Allagash, in the northern part of the state, shrugging off a minus-24 degrees Fahrenheit reading Monday. After all, it was nothing compared to a minus-46 Fahrenheit reading in January 2009.
The wind chill in some areas of New England was expected to make it feel as cold as minus 50. Wind chill advisories and warnings were also issued in upstate New York, including the Adirondack mountains, where Saranac Lake posted a reading of minus 36 Fahrenheit early Monday.PhotoBlog: View, discuss weather photos
In a series of advisories, the NWS warned of "bitterly cold wind chills" taking temperatures to between 15 and 20 below zero in parts of the Hudson Valley and northwestern New Jersey.
"The frigid conditions will be dangerous to those venturing outside," it said, adding that people who did not take precautions like wearing hats, gloves and layers of warm clothes were at risk of frostbite and hypothermia.
Throughout the day Monday the temperature rose only to minus 4 Fahrenheit in Newport in northern Vermont and 1 degree Fahrenheit in Burlington and Montpelier.
In Philadelphia, a group of determined parents waited on a sidewalk overnight to enroll their children in kindergarten at a prestigious school run in partnership with the University of Pennsylvania. The Penn Alexander School eventually opened its doors, letting the parents in from the cold.
In the Washington, D.C., area , a water main break was worsend by the freezing weather. Water quickly turned to ice, closing the Inner Loop of the Beltway in Prince George's County, causing traffic problems.
In Toronto, Canada's most populous city, the municipal government activated extra support services to get homeless people indoors over the weekend when temperatures dropped to -4 F.
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"It certainly has been cold with brutal wind chills," said David Phillips, senior climatologist with Environment Canada. "It seems to stand out because it's something that we see across the entire country."Story: Easterners have had enough of winter
But Phillips said Canadians are used to it.
"We're the second coldest country in the world, the snowiest country in the world, so we know winter. I mean people think winter was born here and we export it," Phillips said.
A significant storm was headed to the Atlantic Coast by Wednesday, according to The Weather Channel.
The storm was building off the coast of Texas on Monday morning, likely to bring rain to the South on Tuesday and a mix of rain and snow on Wednesday to the mid-Atlantic and Northeast on Wednesday, it said on its web site.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.