(AFP) — After heavy snows wrought travel chaos in the northeastern United States, the region was facing a weekend of even colder temperatures on Friday.
Flights from New York and Boston were resuming Friday, although 20 per cent were again cancelled at John F Kennedy airport and 30 per cent from La Guardia, the Flightaware website said. Boston’s Logan airport also saw 30 per cent of its flights axed.
The day before, heavy snow fall, glacial temperatures and high winds had combined to force the cancellation of some 4,300 flights, while another 3,500 were delayed.
Local authorities were mobilising thousands of snowplows to clear roads that had been blanketed on Thursday, after rural areas of New England and upstate New York experienced more than 30 centimetres (12 inches) of snowfall in less than 24 hours.
In the Boston area, authorities were racing to clear debris left behind by historic flooding triggered by huge waves that accompanied the first winter storm of the season.
Rescue services had to rush to the aid of people trapped by icy waters in their vehicles or forced from their homes by rising seawater, even in the historic area of the city, the Boston Globe said. More than 10,000 people lost electricity across Massachusetts on Thursday, although almost all of them had their power restored by Friday, according the National Grid website.
As forecast, temperatures were plunging still lower on Friday and despite sunny conditions, were not expected to rise above minus 11 degrees Celsius (12 degrees Fahrenheit) in New York and Boston. Temperatures were expected to verge on minus 20 degrees Celsius in many areas of the northeastern United States late Friday and into Saturday, with some more northerly states, such as Maine and New Hampshire, seeing the mercury plummet to minus 40 degrees Celsius, the National Weather Service said.
It warned that winds could gust as fast as 40 miles per hour (60 kilometres), adding to the chill factor.
But the NWS said that after the freezing blast that began just after Christmas, temperatures could rise to above the seasonal average next week.
The cold wave has extended the length of the US east coast. In usually balmy Florida, cold stunned iguanas were reported to be falling out of trees.
For those travellers who braved travel chaos to escape for warmer Caribbean climes, there was also bad news: the tail end of the massive storm system had a chilling effect on tropical Central America, where temperatures sank from Guatemala to Costa Rica.
Two homeless men reportedly froze to death in Costa Rica’s capital San Jose, which was battered by two hurricanes last summer, and where the mercury plunged as low as 10 degrees Celsius.