Valentine’s Day cold snap sets New England records


For much of the Northeast United States, Valentine’s Day was the coldest on record, with people bundling up for the not-so-warm embrace of teeth-chattering temperatures.

From New York and Boston to Providence, Rhode Island, and Hartford, Connecticut, temperatures on Sunday morning dipped to as low as minus-40 Fahrenheit minus-40 Celsius — on Mount Washington in New Hampshire.

The National Weather Service said the temperature in New York City’s Central Park fell to minus-1, a record low for the date. The last time it was below zero in Central Park was in January 1994.

“I’m dumb enough to do this,” exclaimed John Male before starting a 12-mile (19-km) park run on Sunday morning with two companions.

“I just always come out and I just decided not to do anything differently” — except to wear a furry tiger hat with two tails over his normal headgear, in addition to four layers of clothing.

His running partner also was wearing a tiger hat on top of the balaklava that covered her face — except the eyes.

“It’s zero degrees and feels like negative 19; I’m going to sue him for personal injury after this,” joked Molly Manning, a Manhattan attorney. “I’m here because they peer-pressured me to come out today. They basically made me feel like I was a wimp unless I came out.”

Boston reached minus-9 F (minus-23 C), breaking the record set in 1934 of minus-3 F (minus-18.5). It reached minus-16 F (minus-26.5 C) in Worcester, Massachusetts, breaking the 1979 record of 11 below zero F (24 below zero C). Providence hit minus-9 F (minus-23 C) and Hartford minus-12 (minus-24.5 C), also breaking records from 1979.

In Montpelier, Vermont, the overnight temperature hit minus-19 F (minus-28.5 C), tying a record set in 2003. And South Lincoln, Vermont, recorded 27 below zero F (33 below zero C).

Temperatures were so low in some spots they knocked out utilities. A frozen regulator left about 400 customers in Connecticut without natural gas service and officials believe extreme cold in Vermont broke a utility pole, knocking out service to about 1,500.

The cold kept many people inside. In a New Jersey bagel shop that’s usually brimming with customers on Sunday mornings, Joe Weir was among a small handful of people who sat drinking coffee.

“I just came from a church service, and it definitely wasn’t as packed as it usually is,” the 60-year-old Toms River man said. “We have a lot of elderly parishioners, and when the weather gets bad or real cold like this, a lot them choose to stay in and watch a Mass on TV instead of going to church. Can’t say I blame them.”

Temperatures were expected to climb before a winter storm already bringing snow to the Midwest moves into the region.

The storm was expected to bring 5 inches (12.5 cm) of snow to parts of Kentucky and up to 6 inches (15 cm) to parts of Tennessee before turning to rain.

West Virginia could see up to 9 inches (22.5 cm) of snow from the storm before it heads into the warming northeast.