Nation's 'Icebox' hits record 40 below zero

Story Highlights

International Falls earns trademark as "Icebox of the Nation"

Single-digit temperatures close schools in New York

West Virginians without power after 55 mph winds hit state

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota (AP) -- The temperature in International Falls, Minnesota, fell to a record 40 below zero Monday, just a few days after the town won a federal trademark officially making it the "Icebox of the Nation."

It was so cold that resident Nick McDougall couldn't even get his car trunk lid to close after he got out his charger to kick-start his dead battery. By late morning, the temperature had risen all the way to 18 below zero.

"This is about as cold as it gets. This is bad. There's no wind -- it's just cold," said McDougall, 48, a worker at The Fisherman, a convenience store and gas station in the northern Minnesota town on the Canadian border. "People just don't go out, unless you have to go to work."

Residents of the area use electric engine block heaters to keep their cars from freezing.

"You plug in your car, for sure, and you put the car in the garage if you can," McDougall said. His garage is full of other things, so he had to park outside, which he admitted was a "big mistake."

The previous record low in International Falls was 37 below zero set in 1967. Mike Stewart, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Duluth, said the cold was expected.

"When the winds finally died off and the skies cleared off, it just dropped," he said.

The temperature also fell to 40 below zero in Embarrass, 80 miles southeast of International Falls. That's just one degree above the all-time record in Minneapolis, 250 miles to the south, that was set in January 1888, the weather service said.

Chilly air also spread into the Northeast on Monday and many schools in New York state between Buffalo and Syracuse closed or opened late. Single-digit temperatures plus high wind drove the wind chill factor to nearly 20 below zero across much of upstate New York.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, had a "Code Blue" alert in effect, sending outreach crews to coax homeless people into shelters. Monday's low was 10 above zero.

Farther south, freezing rain hit southwest Missouri early Monday, making roads hazardous and closing schools. A coating of ice up to an inch thick was expected across much of southern and central Missouri, the weather service said.

"It's treacherous. If you can stay home this morning, do it," Missouri Highway Patrol Sgt. Dan Bracker said in Springfield.

Thousands of West Virginia homes and businesses had no electricity Monday after the state was hit by weekend wind gusts of up to 55 mph. At least nine counties closed schools because of power outages and the cold. The mountain city of Elkins had a low of 6 degrees.

Classes also were canceled Monday for a number of schools in Michigan, which remained in a deep freeze after a weekend of single-digit temperatures and gusty wind. One death was blamed on the weather.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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