NEW YORK (Reuters) - A record-shattering freeze kept its grip on much of the eastern United States on Tuesday (Jan 2), causing at least seven deaths and closing schools as forecasters warned of a storm that could slam some areas with blizzard conditions later this week.
Late on Tuesday, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency for 28 counties after the National Weather Service issued the winter storm warning.
Boston tied a 100-year-old record on Tuesday when it marked seven consecutive days of temperatures that did not top minus 6.7 deg C. Up and down the coast, people working outdoors struggled with the frigid conditions.
In New York City, Nayarit Delgrado, who promotes Times Square's Madame Tussauds wax museum by handing out discount cards to tourists, said her secret to enduring long days outdoors was resisting the urge to check the temperature on her mobile phone.
"I just don't want to know," said the 40-year-old Bronx resident, who said she was bundled up in layers and tugged back a cuff at her wrist to reveal a rainbow of sleeves.
Officials urged people across the northeast to alert social services if they saw people in jeopardy because of the cold.
"We want every resident to have shelter and warmth,"Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser said on Twitter.
Frigid weather gripped much of the country for the past few days, breaking temperature records in cities from Omaha, Nebraska, to Aberdeen, South Dakota.
Higher temperatures toward midweek were expected to be accompanied by heavy snow on the East Coast, according to the National Weather Service.
"New York City will probably expect anywhere from 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 cm) of snow," weather service meteorologist Greg Gallina said.
"The maximum swath will be from southern Rhode Island to the south of Boston and into Maine. South-east Maine will experience anywhere from 12 to 15 inches (30 to 38 cm) of snow." Gallina said cities in northern Florida would experience freezing rain and maybe some sleet.
Coastal areas in Georgia and South Carolina would start seeing snow as early as late Tuesday.
In Cobb County, Georgia, near Atlanta, three police officers were injured, one seriously, on Tuesday when their motorcycles hit a patch of ice on a roadway, local officials said on Twitter.
Cold was expected to linger overnight in many parts of Texas, according to the National Weather Service.
In Houston, two deaths on Monday night were believed to have been caused by exposure to the cold, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo tweeted on Tuesday.
School districts in Iowa, Massachusetts, Indiana, Ohio and North Carolina cancelled or delayed classes. Water in a 750,000-gallon water tower in Evansdale, Iowa, froze for the first time, Mayor Doug Faas said in a telephone interview.
The cold was blamed for the deaths of two men in Milwaukee, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
In Wisconsin, a 27-year-old woman in Fond du Lac County died from exposure to the cold, ABC affiliate WBAY reported.
In Charleston, West Virginia, a homeless man was found dead on a porch, and in Detroit a man was found dead outside a church. Police said he may have frozen to death, local media reported.