Record-setting cold chills US northeast on Valentine’s Day

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BOSTON: Residents of much of the northeastern Un­ited States woke up on Sunday to bone-chilling cold conditions that shattered Val­e­n­­tine’s Day records in Bos­ton, Hartford and Providence.

Officials warned residents to stay indoors in the face of the -22.8 Celsius temperatures, which felt as cold as -40 degrees Fahrenheit with the wind chill.

“It’s fair to say that this is a historic Arctic outbreak for the modern era,” the National Weather Service said in a morning forecast update.

Forecasters warned that frostbite could set in on exposed skin within minutes, and urged residents to check on elderly neighbours. While the system brought intense cold to the region, little snow has fallen so far this winter, placing less stress on roads and rails than last winter’s record-setting 9 feet of snowfall in Boston.

The cold put a damper on some couples Valentine’s Day celebration plans, with walks and other outdoor activities curtailed.

In Cambridge, Massac­hus­e­tts, Kristen Carlson, 25 and her boyfriend Ross Crory, also 25, were adapting their plans.

“We’re going to brunch,” Carlson said. “We’re going rock climbing later. Indoor activities. Tonight we’re staying in and cooking dinner.”

Others embraced the extre­mes, with more than 2,000 taking part in the Sea Isle, New Jersey, annual “Polar Bear Plunge”, dipping into the icy Atlantic to raise funds for the city’s revitalisation.

Police throughout the region sought homeless people to urge them to spend the night in shelters, some of which were rolling out cots, mats and even chairs to give people a place to seek shelter from the cold.