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Plunging temperatures, powerful winds reach Northeast US

Concord: Plunging temperatures and gusty winds made their way today into the Northeastern US, the next victim in the path of dangerously cold temperatures to hit the country.

A strong Arctic cold front moved across the region with temperatures falling throughout the day and commuters, schools and outdoor workers slowing down, girding up, and taking precautions.

Vermont public safety officials warned residents to limit their time outdoors at least through yesterday with dangerous wind chills of minus-35 in the forecast. Some schools and government offices closed early in upstate New York ahead of lake-effect snow expected to bring 1 to 2 feet.

In western Pennsylvania, lake-effect snow bands were blamed for slick roads and poor visibility. Fifty-nine vehicles crashed in a snowy pileup and three people were hurt.

The crash was one of three that shut down different stretches of Interstate 80.

Blowing snow in Syracuse, New York, slowed the morning commute on Interstate 81 to a crawl.

“It doesn’t bother me as long as I go slow,” commuter Dawn Coyer, who lives north of Syracuse, told Time Warner Cable News. “But I wasn’t driving and she (the driver) said ‘No, we’re not doing this.'”

Parts of the Adirondack Northway, north of Albany, were closed for more than four hours after a crash involving a tractor-trailer and a snowplow. No injuries were reported.

Elsewhere in upstate New York, along the Lake Ontario shore, wind gusts approached 70 mph and the National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning effective through early Friday morning.

Lake-effect snow was accompanied by winds up to 50 mph causing whiteout conditions in some places.

In parts of Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine overnight, the frigid weather and wind will cause temperatures to dip below zero as winds gust up to 30 mph and chills near minus-20.

“You are talking about 30 degrees below normal highs. That is pretty darn cold,” said weather service meteorologist James Brown in Maine.

“This is pretty much a piece of Arctic air that came off the North Pole and came into New England.