It’s cold out there, even for hardy New Englanders

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Train equipment froze, cars sputtered, schools canceled classes and cold-weather enthusiasts opted to stay inside Monday as a bitter blast of below-zero temperatures with promises of minus-50 wind chills gripped the Northeast.

The gasp-inducing cold tested the mettle even of New Englanders, who pride themselves on winter hardiness.

“Snot-freezing cold,” was how Kelly Walsh, 28, described it, walking home from an auto parts store in Vermont’s capital after buying a new battery for her car, which wouldn’t start Monday morning. It was minus 21 there at 7 a.m.

“I usually really like it,” she said. “Today is a bit of nuisance.”

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 or even lower.

Amtrak suspended service between Albany and New York City, saying the extreme cold affected signals and switches. It hoped to resume limited service later Monday.

“It takes your breath away if you’re not ready for it,” said Dan Giroux, shop tech at Northern Outfitters snowmobile rentals in Greenville, Maine, where the fleet was mostly idle because it was too cold for most folks.

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.

“Our priority is to make sure they’re safe and warm,” said Seth Diamond, commissioner of the New York City’s Department of Homeless Services.

In Providence, R.I., it dipped to minus 1 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 Fryeburg, Maine, where it hit minus 28.

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 reading Monday. After all, it was nothing compared to a minus-46 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 early Monday.

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