Record-Breaking Bitter Cold, Dangerous Wind Chills Envelop Tri-State

PSE&G Customers Urged to Conserve Electricity

PSE&G in New Jersey has asked its customers to conserve energy Tuesday evening due to frigid temperatures and an increase in electrical demand.

Customers are being asked to conserve energy between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., so long as health permits.

Residents can conserve energy by lowering thermostats, postponing use of major electric appliances such as dishwashers until after 9 p.m., and turning off lights and appliances that you do not need or are not using.

While PSE&G said it does not expect to exceed its all-time peak winter demand for electricity, which was set in 2007 at 7,195 megawatts, the utility said it expects usage will be close to the record.

The extreme cold could also lead to frozen pipes inside your home.

Avoid Frozen Pipes In Deep Freeze

“One thing you can do is open the cupboard doors, allow that air room temperature then to circulate underneath because usually those pipes in the kitchen aren’t insulated and that’s all you would need. Unless you still have troubles then you could at night time in the really severe cold weather, especially what we are dealing with now, you could just let a tiny little drip just go through the night. That way, it won’t freeze,” Brian Bruce with New York American Water advised.

The extreme cold did end up causing serious problems with some water systems.

In Elizabeth, N.J., the cold was blamed for a water main break on a street named for a distant memory and/or future event – Summer Avenue. Water gushed in the area for hours.

In Lodi, another break kept crews busy as well with aging pipes giving in to single digit temperatures.

Brutal Temperatures Hold Nation In Grip

Forecasters said some 187 million people in all could feel the effects of the “polar vortex,” a dangerous blast of polar air, by the time it spreads across the country.

CBS News reported the morning weather map for the eastern half of the U.S. looked like an algebra worksheet – lots of small, negative numbers. In fact, the Midwest and the East were colder than much of Antarctica.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency monitored the record-breaking cold temperatures Tuesday, White House spokesman Jay Carney said. As of late in the day, however, there have been no requests for federal assistance, CBS News reported.

Birmingham, Ala., dipped to a low of 7, shattering the record for the date of 11 degrees, set in 1970. In Atlanta, which saw a record low of 6 degrees, fountains froze over, pipes burst and cars wouldn’t start.

“This is severely cold for these parts,” said Brian Lynn, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Peachtree City, Ga. “Single digits are a rare event.”

Farther south in Pensacola, Fla., a Gulf Coast city better known for its white sand beaches than frost, streets normally filled with joggers, bikers and people walking dogs were deserted early Tuesday as temperatures remained in the teens after sunrise.

The Lower 48 states, when averaged out, reached a low of 13.8 degrees overnight Monday, according to calculations by Ryan Maue of Weather Bell Analytics.

Western New York didn’t just have the cold to contend with. The area was also slammed by a blizzard.

Gusting winds of up to 50 mph made travel nearly impossible Tuesday for drivers who could barely see in front of them, after as much as 18 inches of snow fell in Buffalo overnight Monday into Tuesday.

The New York State Thruway was shut down from Rochester to the Pennsylvania state line Tuesday, and travel bans were enacted for much of Western New York and the Syracuse area. A state of emergency was enacted by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office for 14 upstate counties.

And in Chicago, residents had endured a stretch of more than 36 hours of subzero temperatures by the Tuesday afternoon, when the temperature finally rose to 0 degrees at O’Hare International Airport.

On Monday, Chicago area hospitals saw several deaths and frostbite cases attributed to the subzero temperatures and snowstorms days earlier, reported WBBM-TV, CBS 2 Chicago.

And at Chicago’s O’Hare, American Airlines reported that jet fuel lines froze and employees were only able to be on the ramp for a few minutes due to extreme wind chills, CBS Minneapolis station WCCO-TV reported.

The conditions were blamed for numerous deaths in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, CBS News reported.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence issued disaster declarations, a first step toward seeking federal aid.

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(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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