EUSKIRCHEN, Germany | DMN – A World War Two bomb has exploded at a construction site near a west German town, killing a man and injuring eight others, police say. The explosion occurred after a digger accidentally struck the device during excavation work in Euskirchen in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The machine’s operator died on the spot. Two of those hurt were critically wounded, the dpa news agency reports. Police said the blast impact could be felt a kilometre (0.6miles) away.
The incident took place around 13.30 local time (12.30 GMT) in an industrial park on the edge of town. The bomb blew up when it was disturbed by the digger, as the machine lifted up earth and debris. The blast damaged nearby office buildings and cars. Police say the explosion also smashed the windows of some local shops and homes. Bombs are still regularly being discovered in Germany, particularly in the industrial north-west of the country. In the 1940s, allied bombers tried to cripple the Nazi war effort by bombing factories there. Officials say it is rare that anyone is killed or injured by a device going off unexpectedly.
More than 2,100 explosives dating back to the World War II era were uncovered in a small town in central Germany over in 2008. The bombs, which were of German origin, were found in the area surrounding Koethen, a town about 70 kilometers (40 miles) northwest of Leipzig in the central German state of Saxony-Anhalt. Koethen, which was home to nearly 30,000 people during World War Two, was heavily bombed in July and August of 1944. While most of the bombs discovered weighed less than one kilogram (2.2 pounds), a few also weighed in at more than 50 kilograms (110 pounds). Neighborhoods are often evacuated for bomb removal with most finds being defused without causing any damage. Construction crews are trained to contact bomb removal specialists when they suspect they’ve come across unexploded ordnance.
As we get ready for another significant snow storm across the Midwest and Northeast, what is more troubling perhaps are the brutally cold temperatures forecast for early next week. It is, without question, a dangerous forecast. This is a good time to remember that exposure to very cold temperatures can cause serious, even life-threatening, health consequences. During the winter months, a prolonged exposure to the cold without the proper attire can result in frostbite or hypothermia. While everyone out in the cold is at risk for developing injuries infants are at a greater risk due to their inability to make enough of their own body heat by shivering. The elderly also have a greater chance because of their slower metabolisms.
WHAT IS FROSTBITE?
Frostbite is an injury caused by freezing, which results in a loss of feeling and color. It is most likely to affect the face, fingers, or toes, and can cause permanent damage. In extreme cases, it can lead to amputation of the affected areas. The first signs of frostbite include white or grayish-yellow skin, skin that feels unusually firm or waxy and numbness.
WHAT IS HYPOTHERMIA?
Hypothermia occurs when the body is exposed to cold temperatures and loses heat faster than it can be produced. When a person’s core body temperature drops below 95 degrees, the situation is urgent. This condition can occur at cooler temperatures too, specifically when a person becomes chilled from rain, sweat or cold water. The warning signs for hypothermia include, shivering, confusion, memory loss and drowsiness.
If one suspects frostbite or hypothermia medical attention should be sought after immediately. However, if medical aid is unavailable then the tips below should be followed until medical help becomes an option.
What to do if Medical Help is Not an Option:
1. Seek warm shelter2. Do not walk on frostbitten feet or toes (if possible)
3. Immerse affected areas in warm water
4. Do not massage or rub affected area with snow
5. Warm the area using body heat
6. Do not use heating pads, heat lamps, etc.
7. Seek medical attention as soon as possible
During a winter weather outbreak, it is imperative to know the differences between watches and warnings in order to properly prepare or take the appropriate actions and stay safe. Before any sort of wintry weather, a winter storm survival kit should be kept in a secure place in case of emergency. These kits should contain everything from blankets to flashlights with extra batteries, non-perishable food, waterproof matches, a shovel and windshield scraper, a tool kit, jumper cables, a water container, road maps and flares.
WINTER STORM WATCH
A winter storm watch is issued when wintry weather conditions are expected in the next 12 to 36 hours. In order for this type of watch to be announced snowfall is expected to exceed six inches in 24 hours or less, winds are anticipated to gust up to at least 35 mph and visibilities are presumed to be less than a quarter mile.
To stay safe during this winter storm situation it is important that the necessary precautions are taken prior to the storm’s arrival. See the lists below, ordered by possible locations, to make sure your adequately prepared.
At Home or Work:
1. Working flashlight2. Battery powered radio or television
3. Extra food, water and medicine
4. First Aid Supplies
5. Heating fuel
6. Emergency heating source
7. Fire extinguishers
8. Carbon monoxide and smoke detectors
On a Farm:
1. Move all animals to an enclosed shelter
2. Bring extra feed to nearby feeding areas
3. Have an extra water supply easily available
In a Vehicle:
1. Full or near full gas tank
2. Let a friend or relative know your predicted arrival time
3. A charged cell phone
4. Extra food and water
5. Extra gasoline for emergency fuel
WINTER STORM WARNING
A winter storm warning is more timely than just a watch. While the classifications for the snowfall, wind and visibility conditions are the same as a winter storm watch, a warning means that these conditions are expected within the next 12 hours or sooner.
When a winter storm warning is issued there is little or no time for preparations and as a result, safety is harder to ensure. See the tips below on what to do depending on your location during the warning.
At Home or in a Building:
1. Stay inside
2. Close off unneeded rooms to save heat
3. Stuff towels or rags in cracks underneath doors to conserve heat
4. Cover the windows at night
5. Eat and drink to prevent dehydration
6. Wear layers of loose-fitting, light-weight and warm clothing
If Caught Outside:
1. Find a dry shelter immediately
2. Cover all exposed body parts
If Caught Outdoors Without Shelter:
1. Prepare a lean-to, wind break, or snow-cave for protection against the wind
2. Build a fire for heat and attention purposes
3. Place rocks around the fire to absorb and reflect the heat
4. Do not eat snow straight off the ground, melt it first.
If Stranded in a Vehicle:
1. Stay inside your vehicle
2. Run the motor for ten minutes each hour
3. Crack the windows to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning
4. Make sure the exhaust pipe is not blocked
5. Tie a colored cloth to your antenna or door
6. Raise the hood after the snow stops falling
7. Exercise to keep warm and keep your blood flowing
When the temperatures drop each year, there is of course the need to heat your home. There are a variety of ways to heat your home, but some carry more risks than others. Just a few of these risks include carbon monoxide poisoning, burns and fire. Carbon monoxide poisoning is a fairly common risk. The best way to combat this risk is two-fold. The first thing you can do is install a carbon monoxide detector. You should also have a professional inspect your home heating system and make sure it is clean-burning and there are no leaks in the ventilation system.
Burns can be another risk if you heat your home using a wood or coal stove. Curious children in your home may touch a heat surface of a wood stove or other heat providing device that can be hot to the touch. The threat of fire is a major problem as well, especially with open fireplaces. According to the Home Safety Council, in January and February, fires caused by heating systems surpass cooking fires as the main cause of home fires. One way to prevent fires is to burn only hardwoods like oak or maple in fireplaces and wood-burning stoves. Never burn trash, paper or cardboard. Make sure your flue is open and it is professionally cleaned, and that the liner of your chimney is properly installed before the winter to prevent chimney fires.
If you need to use a portable heater, make sure your electrical system can handle the extra stress on it and the cord does not get too hot, and there are no electrical shortages. It is also important to make sure that there is nothing that can fall on it, there are no objects near it and that the heater will not tip over. During extremely cold weather, another common issue is bursting or freezing pipes. The best way to prevent this is to winterize your pipes by insulating them. If you can’t do this or it is too late, you can use a portable heater on the pipe and let water drip or flow slowly out of the faucet to keep water in the pipes moving so it does not freeze.
Yet another threat during the cold of winter is of course the weight of ice and snow on your roof. Be sure that ice or snow does not build up too much on the roof–depending on the age and condition of your roof, build up of snow or ice can cause a roof collapse. Not only that, but falling icicles or heavy snow from the roof can also cause injuries or worse. Icicles can also weigh down gutters and eaves. Heavy snow or ice build-up on branches over your home could cause them to break and fall onto your house, car or other property and cause serious damage.
The National Security Agency is racing to build a computer that could break nearly every kind of encryption used to protect banking, medical, business and government records around the world according to a report in today’s edition of The Washington Post. According to documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the effort to build “a cryptologically useful quantum computer” — a machine exponentially faster than classical computers — is part of a $79.7 million research program titled “Penetrating Hard Targets.” Much of the work is hosted under classified contracts at a laboratory in College Park, Md.
The development of a quantum computer has long been a goal of many in the scientific community, with revolutionary implications for fields such as medicine as well as for the NSA’s code-breaking mission. With such technology, all current forms of public key encryption would be broken, including those used on many secure Web sites as well as the type used to protect state secrets. Physicists and computer scientists have long speculated about whether the NSA’s efforts are more advanced than those of the best civilian labs. Although the full extent of the agency’s research remains unknown, the documents provided by Snowden suggest that the NSA is no closer to success than others in the scientific community.
“It seems improbable that the NSA could be that far ahead of the open world without anybody knowing it,” said Scott Aaronson, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The NSA appears to regard itself as running neck and neck with quantum computing labs sponsored by the European Union and the Swiss government, with steady progress but little prospect of an immediate breakthrough. “The geographic scope has narrowed from a global effort to a discrete focus on the European Union and Switzerland,” one NSA document states.
Seth Lloyd, an MIT professor of quantum mechanical engineering, said the NSA’s focus is not misplaced. “The E.U. and Switzerland have made significant advances over the last decade and have caught up to the U.S. in quantum computing technology,” he said. The NSA declined to comment for this story. The documents, however, indicate that the agency carries out some of its research in large, shielded rooms known as Faraday cages, which are designed to prevent electromagnetic energy from coming in or out. Those, according to one brief description, are required “to keep delicate quantum computing experiments running.”
A working quantum computer would open the door to easily breaking the strongest encryption tools in use today, including a standard known as RSA, named for the initials of its creators. RSA scrambles communications, making them unreadable to anyone but the intended recipient, without requiring the use of a shared password. It is commonly used in Web browsers to secure financial transactions and in encrypted e-mails. RSA is used because of the difficulty of factoring the product of two large prime numbers. Breaking the encryption involves finding those two numbers. This cannot be done in a reasonable amount of time on a classical computer. In 2009, computer scientists using classical methods were able to discover the primes within a 768-bit number, but it took almost two years and hundreds of computers to factor it. The scientists estimated that it would take 1,000 times longer to break a 1,024-bit encryption key, which is commonly used for online transactions.
A large-scale quantum computer, however, could theoretically break a 1,024-bit encryption much faster. Some leading Internet companies are moving to 2,048-bit keys, but even those are thought to be vulnerable to rapid decryption with a quantum computer. Quantum computers have many applications for today’s scientific community, including the creation of artificial intelligence. But the NSA fears the implications for national security. “The application of quantum technologies to encryption algorithms threatens to dramatically impact the US government’s ability to both protect its communications and eavesdrop on the communications of foreign governments,” according to an internal document provided by Snowden.
Experts are not sure how soon a quantum computer would be feasible. A decade ago, some experts said that developing a large quantum computer was likely 10 to 100 years in the future. Five years ago, Lloyd said the goal was at least 10 years away. Last year, Jeff Forshaw, a professor at the University of Manchester, told Britain’s Guardian newspaper, “It is probably too soon to speculate on when the first full-scale quantum computer will be built but recent progress indicates that there is every reason to be optimistic.” “I don’t think we’re likely to have the type of quantum computer the NSA wants within at least five years, in the absence of a significant breakthrough maybe much longer,” Lloyd told The Washington Post in a recent interview.
Some companies, however, claim to already be producing small quantum computers. A Canadian firm, D-Wave Systems , says it has been making quantum computers since 2009. In 2012, it sold a $10 million version to Google, NASA and the Universities Space Research Association, according to news reports. That quantum computer, however, would never be useful for breaking public key encryption like RSA. “Even if everything they’re claiming is correct, that computer, by its design, cannot runShor’s algorithm,” said Matthew Green, a research professor at the Johns Hopkins University Information Security Institute, referring to the algorithm that could be used to break encryption like RSA.
The budget for the National Intelligence Program, commonly referred to as the “black budget,” details the “Penetrating Hard Targets” project and noted that this step “will enable initial scaling towards large systems in related and follow-on efforts.” Another project, called “Owning the Net,” is using quantum research to support the creation of quantum-based attacks on encryptions like RSA, documents show. “The irony of quantum computing is that if you can imagine someone building a quantum computer that can break encryption a few decades into the future, then you need to be worried right now,” Lidar said.
Idaho’s governor says the corrections department will take over operation of the largest privately run prison in the state after more than a decade of mismanagement and other problems at the facility. Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America has contracted with the state to run the prison since it was built in 1997. Taxpayers currently pay CCA $29m per year to operate the 2,080-bed prison south of Boise.
Governor C L “Butch” Otter made the announcement Friday at a preview of the upcoming legislative session. For years, Otter has been a champion of privatizing certain sectors of government, including prisons. In 2008, he floated legislation to change state laws to allow private companies to build and operate prisons in Idaho and import out-of-state inmates. In 2008, he suggested privatizing the 500-bed state-run Idaho Correctional Institution-Orofino. The CCA prison has been the subject of multiple lawsuits alleging rampant violence, understaffing, gang activity and contract fraud by CCA.
CCA acknowledged last year that falsified staffing reports were given to the state showing thousands of hours were staffed by CCA workers when the positions were actually vacant. And the Idaho state police is investigating the operation of the facility for possible criminal activity. A federal judge also has held CCA in contempt of court for failing to abide by the terms of a settlement agreement reached with inmates in a lawsuit claiming high rates of violence and chronic understaffing at the prison. Meanwhile, Idaho prison officials, led by IDOC director Brent Reinke, have lobbied to allow the agency to put together its own proposal and cost analysis for running the prison. Each time, however, Reinke and his staff have been rebuffed by the state board of correction. Recently, board chairwoman Robin Sandy said she opposed the idea because she didn’t want to grow state government.
ATLANTA, Georgia | DMN — The number of states reporting widespread seasonal flu activity jumped from 10 to 25 last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday. Widespread activity was reported in Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington state and Wyoming, according to the CDC’s weekly flu advisory report, covering the week ending December 28. ”Widespread” means that more than 50% of geographic regions in a state — counties, for example — are reporting flu activity. It addresses the spread of the flu, not its severity.
However, 20 states experienced a high proportion of outpatient visits to health care providers for flu-like illnesses. The most severe activity seems to be located in the Southeastern states. So far, “it’s a typical influenza season, if I can use that word,” Dr. Michael Jhung, a medical officer in the CDC’s flu division, told CNN last week. The season usually begins in the winter months and peaks in January or February. The only atypical thing seen this year is that the most common strain has been H1N1, which became known as swine flu during a 2009 outbreak. ”It’s the same virus that we saw in 2009 that caused the pandemic,” Jhung said. At the time, it was called swine flu since it was seen for the first time in humans. But since then, “it’s established itself very nicely in the human population,” Jhung said. “We’ve seen it every season since 2009 in people.” The virus is no longer referred to as swine flu, but instead as a human seasonal virus.
The strain is so common that it was included in this year’s vaccination, he said. Two new pediatric flu deaths were reported to the CDC last week, according to the report. One was associated with the H1N1 virus; another was associated with an influenza A strain. Six pediatric flu deaths have been reported since September 29, according to the CDC. The agency does not track adult deaths related to the flu, although some states do, and deaths have been reported.
The exact number of flu-related adult deaths is hard to track and varies from year to year. The CDC has estimated that from 1976 through 2007, between 3,000 and 49,000 people died of flu-related causes. ”It depends on the season; it depends on the virus,” Jhung said. Last year, 381,000 people were hospitalized and 171 children died in what’s being called a relatively severe season. However, the CDC estimates that flu vaccination prevented 6.6 million illnesses last year, 3.2 million doctor visits and at least 79,000 hospitalizations.
Flu vaccines are recommended for everyone 6 months and older, especially pregnant women and those at high risk of complications, including the elderly, children younger than 5 years and those with underlying medical conditions such as asthma or diabetes. Antiviral medications are a good treatment if you do get sick, Jhung said, particularly those at high risk for complications. Ideally, antivirals should be started within two days of when symptoms appear.
INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana | DMN — Another snowstorm will slam into the Midwest by the end of the weekend and will be followed by brutally cold air early next week. As bitterly cold air charges in, a flash freeze and blizzard conditions could develop in some areas. A cold front will approach the Great Lakes late Saturday and will set the stage for cold and snow around Chicago, Detroit and St. Louis on Sunday. A storm forming along the front in the Mississippi Valley late on Sunday will bring another snowstorm to the Great Lakes, part of the Northeast and neighboring Ontario. The storm will also bring snow and slippery travel to much of the Ohio and Tennessee valleys.
A significant winter storm could dump a foot or more of snow on parts of Indiana on Sunday, before frigid temperatures settle in. A winter storm watch has been issued for much of Indiana as a vigorous storm system takes shape. The storm is expected to move toward Indiana late in the day on Saturday, with the bulk of the snow falling on Sunday. Early projections are calling for general accumulations of 7-10 inches, with snow piling up in some areas to a foot or more. A strengthening low-pressure system will swing by to the south and east of Indiana, funneling moisture and cold air into the state. Snow should begin falling late Saturday night and will be heavy at times through the day Sunday before tapering off late in the day.
More specific snow totals will depend on where you live and the track the storm takes. A swath of a foot or more of accumulation is possible in parts of central Indiana, but it’s too early to pinpoint where that will be. After the storm moves away, an Arctic air mass will build into Indiana, ushering in the coldest temperatures in central Indiana in 20 years. The low temperature Tuesday morning is forecast at -15 degrees. That would match a low hit in January 1994. Dangerous wind chills in the -30 to -40 range are expected according to WRTV.
The heaviest snow is forecast to reach from St. Louis to Indianapolis, Detroit, Cleveland, Buffalo, N.Y., Erie, Pa., and London, Ontario, where a half a foot or more of snow could fall. Cities that could be hit by a sudden period of blinding snow, plunging temperatures and a quick freeze include Memphis and Nashville, Tenn.; Louisville and Lexington, Ky.; Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio; Charleston and Morgantown, W.Va.; Pittsburgh and Bradford, Pa.; Jamestown and Rochester, N.Y.; and Toronto and Ottawa, Ontario. Travel along I-40, I-64 and I-65 could be difficult Sunday night. As lake-effect blends in with the general storm, some bands of intense snowfall are likely.
According to Senior Meteorologist Dale Mohler, “Blizzard conditions may develop from eastern Ohio to West Virginia, western Maryland, western Pennsylvania Sunday night and Monday, and in western New York Monday into Tuesday.” Whiteout conditions are possible in these areas with strong winds, plunging temperatures and heavy snowfall rates. The worst conditions are likely in New York state, just south of Buffalo and in the Tug Hill region, south of Watertown. ”Major interstate highways including I-79, I-80, I-81, I-90 and Route 219 could close down for a time due to the intense conditions Monday into Tuesday,” Mohler added. Some people could be caught off guard and stranded by the storm.
A dangerous cold wave will blast in its wake. The new wave of frigid air will reach the I-95 Northeast on Monday. Temperatures in Chicago are not expected to exceed zero degrees on Monday with Detroit experiencing afternoon highs just above zero Monday and Tuesday. The last time Chicago was this cold was during early February of 1996, where temperatures remained below zero around the clock for a couple of days. Lows Monday night in Binghamton, N.Y., and Pittsburgh will drop well below zero with highs near to just above zero Tuesday.
AccuWeather.com RealFeel® temperatures will average 10 to 20 degrees lower than the actual temperature. January typically bring the lowest average temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere. Combined with less sunlight and a growing snowpack, the first month of the year can bring some downright frigid air. However, occasional bouts of frigid air with some of the coldest nighttime lows can occur well into February.
North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un sentenced his uncle to be eaten alive by a pack of 120 wild dogs in a savage punishment for treachery, according to reports from Chinese news agencies. Jang Song-Thaek, 67, along with five close aides, was stripped naked and thrown into a cage of hounds which had been starved for three days, according to new details emerging from China. The pack of animals spent more than an hour mauling the group in a punishment called ‘quan jue’, or execution by dogs, a report in Chinese newspaper Wen Wei Po said. The tyranical leader of the communist state had accused his uncle – once seen as North Korea’s second most powerful man – of treason and corruption and described him as ‘scum’ and ‘factionalist filth’ during his recent New Year message.
Unlike previous executions of political prisoners, which were carried out by firing squads with machine guns, this extraordinary sentence seems to have been specially reserved for the most hated in North Korean society. The report in the Chinese language newspaper said the entire process was supervised by the supreme leader in North Korea, along with 300 senior officials – a clear warning against anyone challenging Kim’s leadership. The fact details of the barbaric punishment emerged in a newspaper, viewed as Beijing Government’s official mouthpiece, in Hong Kong, has been seen as another signal of China’s authorities losing patience with its wayward neighbor, according to The Straits Times.
Kim Jong-Un spoke of the execution of his 67-year-old uncle during his New Year address telling the country ‘our party took resolute action to remove…scum elements within the party last year.’ The 30-year-old leader appeared on state television for the speech and analysts say the words reflect his feelings towards aides of his uncle, Jang Song-Thaek, and other family members who are believed to have been sent to labour camps. ’Our party’s timely, accurate decision to purge the anti-party, anti-revolutionary elements helped greatly cement solidarity within our party,’ said Kim, adding that ‘factionalist filth’ had been ‘eliminated.’
His statement on state tv was the first time he had publicly criticised his uncle, who was executed on December 12 after he was accused of treason, corruption, following the ways of the hated West, and being a womanizer. In its announcement of the sentence, the North Korean regime described Jang as ‘despicable human scum’, who was ‘worse than a dog’. Furthermore, he ‘perpetrated thrice-cursed acts of treachery in betrayal of such profound trust and warmest paternal love shown by the Party and the leader for him’. His supposed crimes against the regime included having ‘improper relations with several women’ and having ‘wined and dined at back parlors of deluxe restaurants’.
In addition, Jang was said to have ‘squandered foreign currency at casinos while he was receiving medical treatment in a foreign country under the care of the party’. Worst of all perhaps, in the twisted logic of this supposed workers’ paradise, was that Jang was guilty of ‘such factional acts as dreaming different dreams’.
Although Jang had played a major role in helping the inexperienced Kim after the younger man had taken power following the death of his father, Kim Jong-Il in December 2011, the new leader is believed to have felt threatened by Jang’s power. Observers in neighboring South Korea agree that Kim has been running a ‘reign of terror’ in carrying out a ‘massive purge’ to consolidate his grip. Kim also used his New Year message to warn that the Korean peninsula would be engulfed by a ‘massive nuclear disaster’ if war broke out there again – a reference to the Korean war of the early 1950s when South Korea, supported by the United Nations, fought with North Korea which was at one time supported by China and the Soviet Union. ’If the war breaks out again in this land, it will bring about a massive nuclear disaster and the US will never be safe,’ he warned.
Before issuing his New Year message, Kim warmly wrapped in a thick coat and a bearskin hat, visited his pet project, the Masik Pass Ski Resort, lauded by state media as having been completed at ‘lightning speed’. Kim took a test ride on a ski lift, rising up over the project that he said during an earlier visit was ‘at the center of the world’s attention’.
NEW YORK, New York | DMN – A massive winter storm dumped 20 inches of snow on parts of New England and looked set to cripple much of the Midwest and Northeast on Friday as millions faced dangerously cold temperatures. Sub-zero wind chills arrived with the storm, and the biting wind and blowing snow have shut down interstates and airports alike. John F. Kennedy Airport in New York was officially closed at 6:12 a.m. Friday and wasn’t expected to reopen until 9:30 a.m., while Boston’s Logan International remained effectively shut down, as well.
Interstate 84 in New York and the Long Island Expressway, closed at midnight as the storm roared in, remained so until 8 a.m. Snowfall reports varied widely, with New York City receiving 7 inches, Baltimore some 3 to 6 inches, Philadelphia roughly 5 inches, Hartford 6 to 10 inches and Boston as much as 14 inches. Some 20 inches have already fallen on other parts of Massachusetts, according to The Weather Channel lead meteorologist Michael Palmer. Boxford, Mass., northwest of Boston, reported 21 inches. Schools across the Northeast, including all public schools in New York City, were closed Friday.
Winter weather and wind-chill advisories were in effect in at least 22 states, stretching from Chicago through the New York tri-state region into New England and affecting an area home to more than 100 million people. The cold behind the snowstorm could be deadly, with parts of the Midwest expecting lows not seen since the mid-1980s, according to Palmer. ”It’s going to be brutal,” warned Weather Channel coordinating meteorologist Tom Moore. “People that are vulnerable are really going to be hurting.” The high temperature in New York City will be in the teens on Friday during the day and drop to between 5 and 8 degrees in the evening, with the wind chill making it feel well below zero. ”This is nothing to be trifled with,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. “We have learned too well over the past few years the power of Mother Nature. We have seen the damage that has been done.”
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick dismissed all state workers at 3 p.m. on Thursday, and urged residents to minimize time outside and be aware of frostbite and hypothermia symptoms. ”That is a very, very dangerous set of circumstances,” he said. Temperatures from upstate New York to Maine were below zero, and wind chills — the “feels like” effect — were minus-30 in some spots. Across the Northeast, residents were fretting about the blast of bitter cold. The weather was affecting air travel, with some 1,800 flights being cancelled Friday on top of about 2,000 on Thursday, according to flight tracking website FlightAware.
Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways said they were canceling flights at Chicago’s Midway International Airport until at least noon CT Friday (1 p.m. ET). Some 3,200 daily Southwest flights and 400 daily AirTran flights across the country were in jeopardy. The delays and cancellations in the Midwest and Northeast created a logjam in the rest of the country’s flight schedules. Even in warm and sunny Southern California, dozens of flights at LAX in Los Angeles were put on hold or scrapped Thursday, with the same expected Friday. The first brutal blast of cold shattered records in Minnesota on Thursday — and a second blast is expected to barrel from the Great Plains and Midwest on Sunday and Monday and into the East on Tuesday.
The second wave of icy weather will stretch from the upper Midwest to Kentucky and Tennessee, forecasters said. Chicago will struggle to get above minus 8 and by Monday morning the wind will make it feel like it’s 40 below zero there. In Green Bay, Wis., where the Packers host an NFL playoff game Sunday evening, the low temperature could reach minus 18. ”Even Atlanta’s northern suburbs could be in single digits by Monday night,” Moore said. Larry Wittmers, a hypothermia expert at the University of Minnesota-Duluth medical school, said it’s not necessarily the coldest areas that face the most peril. ”True hypothermia cases turn up more often in more southern regions because people are not prepared and don’t know what to do,” Wittmers said.
How long people can safely spend outside depends on how wet or windy it is and how they are dressed, Wittmer said. Shoveling snow or other exercise can be dangerous because sweat reduces the insulation capability of clothing, and consuming alcohol can speed heat loss and reduce awareness of the cold. And even though record snowfall is not expected, the cold could make roads even more hazardous because the snow-melting salt that homeowners and road crews use loses effectiveness at between 10 and 20 degrees.
To give plows time to work and guard against vehicles getting stranded, Cuomo declared a state of emergency in New York and closed several major roads. New Jersey also declared a state of emergency. While many drivers appeared to stay home, helping to reduce traffic accidents, a NJ Transit bus driver suffered minor injuries when his empty bus slid backward into a commercial building in Paterson, N.J. A transit spokesman wasn’t aware of any injuries inside the building. Cuomo cautioned drivers in New York to stay off the roads if they can help it. ”As this winter storm unfolds, bringing heavy snow and high winds to many parts of the state, I strongly urge all New Yorkers to exercise caution, avoid travel and stay indoors,” he said.
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