Cold stretches across the East

A car moves along a snow covered street past a tree decorated for the holidays, Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2008, in Cincinnati.

The Associated Press
Published: Thursday, January 3, 2008 at 11:07 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 3, 2008 at 11:07 a.m.

People in the Northeast, mid-Atlantic, the Southeast, the Gulf Coast and the Ohio Valley woke up to sub-freezing temperatures.

Snow fell in northern New England as cold air came down from Canada Wednesday, while more rain fell in the Northwest.

Upstate New York had single-digit readings and wind chills well below zero. At 7 a.m., it was 8 degrees below zero in Watertown, N.Y., with the wind chill making it feel like 20 below. In Saranac Lake in the Adirondacks, it was 17 below with calm winds.

The lowest reading in Maine was 23 below near Ashland, the National Weather Service said. Detroit was 6. Ohio saw 9 degrees at Cleveland Hopkins Airport, 8 in Youngstown and 7 in Dayton.

People shivered overnight inside about 1,000 homes that lost power in the Cincinnati suburb of Madeira after a vehicle hit a utility pole around 12:30 a.m. Duke Energy indicates nearly all the customers were back on by 6 a.m.

A Pacific front provided rain and high elevation snow to Washington and Oregon in advance of a monster storm that is predicted to slam into the West Coast Thursday afternoon or evening. The heaviest precipitation is expected Friday night into Saturday.

From Thursday to Monday, lowland areas around Los Angeles and Orange County were expected to get a total of up to 4 inches, while mountain areas of Southern California could get 10 inches.

Officials urged homeowners in mudslide-prone areas to stock up on sandbags, monitor the news for evacuations and keep an eye on streams and flood control channels for flooding. Fire stations throughout the region were handing out free sandbags.

The storm could dampen the San Diego Chargers' playoff game against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. A Qualcomm Stadium official said that if the rain persists, the field will be covered by a tarp until one hour before the game.

In Louisiana, strawberry farmers covered their crops with material in an attempt to protect them. Peach farmers, however, welcomed the cold, which they say benefits their fruit trees during their period of dormancy.

"The more cold weather we have, the better," said Joe Mitchum, a peach grower outside Ruston, La.

The unusually low temperatures led New Orleans emergency officials to enact a "freeze plan" on New Year's Eve, allowing homeless shelters to temporarily exceed their fire safety capacity. Six shelters took on 700 extra cots between them, boosting the city's capacity of about 400 shelter beds. The plan is expected to last through Thursday.

Snow fell Wednesday from Ohio through eastern Kentucky and West Virginia into parts of Virginia and Maryland. West Virginia's rugged Randolph County got 13 inches, the Weather Service said.

At least 40 of West Virginia's 55 counties closed schools Wednesday because of snow-covered roads and freezing temperatures. Dozens of schools also were closed Wednesday in southeastern Michigan.

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