US east coast shivers in freezing conditions day after winter storm

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Frigid temperatures that could feel as cold as minus 30C have moved across the US east coast amid clean-up efforts after a massive winter storm that brought more than a foot of snow, hurricane-force winds and coastal flooding.

Forecasters predict strong winds and record-breaking cold air will sweep the region, from the mid-Atlantic to New England, and linger through the weekend.

The arctic blast could make temperatures feel as low as minus 15C to minus 25C from Philadelphia to Boston.

The wind chill could make it feel like minus 35C in the Berkshire hills of western Massachusetts, the National Weather Service said.

The storm began days ago in the Gulf of Mexico and first struck the Florida Panhandle.

By Thursday, it was wreaking havoc as blizzard warnings and states of emergency went into effect along the Eastern Seaboard. Wind gusts hit more than 70mph in places and some areas saw as much as 18in of snow.

The storm caused school and business closures, airline and rail service cancellations or reductions and power outages, many of them restored quickly. Some ferry services even had to be shut down along the Canadian coast.

In New Jersey, high winds carried flames from a vacant building across the street to two other buildings. The flames also spread to two structures adjacent to the vacant building, damaging a total of five in Newark. Two firefighters received minor injuries.

In the South, the winter weather led to portable toilets being placed outside Mississippi’s Capitol after pipes burst and it caused iguanas to become sluggish and topple from trees in South Florida. Residents of south-east Georgia saw a rare half foot of snow.

A group of men help a motorist after his vehicle was stuck in the snow near Asbury Park in New Jersey (Julio Cortez/AP/PA)
A group of men help a motorist after his vehicle was stuck in the snow near Asbury Park in New Jersey (Julio Cortez/AP/PA)

In New England, powerful winds brought coastal flooding that reached historic levels in some communities with icy water overflowing piers, streets and restaurants and stranding some people who had to be rescued.

The only place where blizzard conditions were reported during Thursday’s storm, however, was Block Island, Rhode Island.

At least seven people died in weather-related accidents.

Four people were killed in North Carolina and South Carolina after their vehicles ran off snow-covered roads, authorities said. Another fatality was reported near Philadelphia when a car could not stop at the bottom of a steep, snow-covered hill and slammed into a commuter train. A passenger in the vehicle was killed. No-one on the train was hurt.

Winter Weather Massachusetts
Eugene Mullen clears his driveway in Norwell, Massachusetts (Charles Krupa/AP)

In Virginia, a girl was struck by a pickup truck while sledding, and a 75-year-old man was hit by a snow plough while clearing business car parks, authorities said. Both died at hospitals from their injuries, police said.

In northern New England, temperatures will be below zero this weekend. The high in Burlington, Vermont, on Saturday may only be minus 5C.

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