New England weathering frigid blasts

Ice company's freezer far warmer than outside

ski areas offer discounts


BOSTON - The bone-rattling cold that blasted through the Northeast yesterday rocked even the hardiest New Englanders.

Tory Bramante, a squid fisherman from Wakefield, Mass., had to stop his boat three times in 24 hours to chip ice off the hull.

"We got it pretty bad," Bramante said, describing 25-foot waves that came crashing over his head as he was heading into Boston Harbor from Georges Bank off Cape Cod. "Keep moving, that's all you can do. Stop and you'll freeze up."

In New Hampshire, where a number of Democratic presidential candidates were hoping for a warm reception from potential primary voters, the weather was not in the mood. Workers at Laconia Ice Co. found that temperatures in their warehouse freezer, which is kept at about 18 degrees, were far warmer than the weather outside, where the thermometer hit 18 degrees below zero.

"So when we go in the freezer," said John Rudzinski, the company's owner, "it does feel a little warm in there."

At Jay Peak Ski Resort just south of the Canadian border in Vermont, where overnight lows Tuesday night plummeted to 26 degrees below zero, traffic on the slopes was thin and a couple of lifts were shut down because managers were worried that the equipment might freeze and break.

"We have definitely experienced low skier attendance this week, and probably will over the next few days," said Zoe Holt, a spokeswoman for the resort. But she said skiers who braved the subzero temperatures would get a $20 discount off a $54 lift ticket and a free beverage - a hot one, of course. "People can certainly come up and ski tomorrow and have a nice day, as long as their exposed skin is covered."

Records were broken in Burlington, Vt., where the previous record low temperature for the day was 4 degrees below zero in 1988, said Brooke Taber, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. As of 5 p.m. yesterday, Taber said, "It's at minus 8 and falling."

The upstate New York towns of Gouverneur and Watertown had overnight temperatures Tuesday night of more than 30 degrees below zero, Taber said. On Mount Washington in New Hampshire, the temperatures were the lowest in the region - 44 degrees below zero, and feeling like 100 degrees below with the wind chill factor.

"We got more cold air to come," Taber said, predicting that the worst of the cold would hit tonight and Friday morning, with temperatures of 15 to 30 degrees below zero and wind chill readings down to 50 degrees below zero.

"You can get frostbite within minutes; doesn't take much at those temperatures," Taber said.

"It's all happening because arctic high pressure over Canada is just funneling in a frigid air mass basically right from the North Pole," said Charles Foley, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Taunton, Mass. He predicted that temperatures tomorrow would break Boston's cold record, which was 5 degrees below zero, set in 1920.

The weather service took the unusual measure of issuing frostbite warnings for tonight and tomorrow morning.

With the kind of cold that makes lungs feel raw, many schools kept children indoors yesterday, and at Belmont Day School in Belmont, Mass., some very exuberant kindergartners were unleashing their energy in their classroom during their second "indoor recess" of the day.

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