LETCHWORTH STATE PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Much of the U.S. continued to shiver and suffer in bitter cold Thursday. Temperatures and wind chills dipped near zero or below in the Midwest, Northeast and even the South — where people were most unaccustomed to the weather-related road hazards, school cancellations, public transportation and airport delays, and runs on supplies at stores.
The cold snap followed snow and ice storms earlier in the week. The low temperatures caused much freezing and refreezing of snow, ice and roads.
Some areas shouldn’t expect relief anytime soon — the National Weather Service warned that even colder weather could come later in the week as another cold front drops from Canada. That weather could be some of the coldest since the mid-1990s for parts of the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic, forecasters said.
Here’s a look at how people are handling the weather:
Arctic conditions have turned a geyser at a state park in western New York into a five-story-tall “ice volcano.”
The geyser is in a pond near the Glen Iris Inn at Letchworth State Park. Days of subzero temperatures have formed a solid cone of ice several feet thick with water still spouting out of the top.
Park officials tell local media that the formation is at least 50 feet high.
Winter is normally a quiet season for the park, known as the “Grand Canyon of the East” for its scenic gorges, but dozens of people are showing up daily to see the “volcano.”
‘I HEARD HER YELP’
Vytas Penkiunas, 77, of Annapolis, Maryland, was in his backyard Wednesday with his 19-month-old black Labrador retriever, Sweets, when he saw her walk onto the South River. He yelled for her to return, but she ignored him and soon fell through, he said.
“I heard her yelp with her head sticking out, a feeble yelp,” Penkiunas said Thursday.
Penkiunas said he used his body to break through about 30 feet of ice as he used his feet underwater to try to find Sweets. After 20 minutes, he found her. He was carrying the 70-pound dog to shore when he tripped and went under himself. Rescuers pulled both from the water.
Police tried to resuscitate Sweets, but she was under too long and didn’t survive.
“It’s just kind of weighing on my mind. Could I have saved her any other way?” Penkiunas said
SNOW DAY? NAH, A ‘COLD DAY’
In the Chicago area, several school districts covering hundreds of thousands of students called a “cold day” even though not a single snowflake fell. For some, it was the fourth such day this winter.
Subzero temperatures combined with wind chills that made it feel about 30 degrees below zero in some areas. School officials said exposure to such weather for as little as 15 minutes can cause frostbite.
Many students welcomed the day off, but some parents weren’t as happy. Rodesha Smith is a single mother who says she must take the day off without pay from her job at a Popeye’s fast-food restaurant.
“I have to call in sick; I don’t get paid,” said Smith, 31, who makes $8.25 an hour. “But it’s what I’ve got to do.”
ICE DAM DAMAGE
Homeowners struggling with ice dams that prevent melted snow from dripping off their their roofs have a sympathetic ear from Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker.
He said Thursday that he and his wife are dealing with ice dams and icicles at their home. During his monthly “Ask the Governor” radio program, he described placing pots and pans, plastic bags and towels around the house to collect leaking water that is then dumped into a bathtub each morning.
Baker said he even climbed on his roof at one point to clear off snow.
It’s a familiar scenario for thousands of homeowners after storms have left several feet of snow on roofs, leading to costly damage from ice dams and the threat of roof collapses.
ENOUGH ‘FROZEN’ WEATHER
The cold might not bother Disney’s Queen Elsa, but it’s wreaking enough havoc in Kentucky that police announced a joke warrant for the “Frozen” character’s arrest.
Police in the rural town of Harlan posted on Facebook: “Suspect is a blonde female last seen wearing a long blue dress and is known to burst into song ‘Let it Go!’ As you can see by the weather she is very dangerous.”
But they soon posted another message, advising residents to take the weather seriously, all kidding aside.
BAD FOR BUSINESS
The weather hasn’t been good news for the acclaimed restaurant scene in Portland, Maine.
Winters are already slow, with fewer tourists. But after about 80 inches of snow in the city this winter and 18 on-street parking bans, even locals are staying home.
Harding Smith, owner of four restaurants, tells the Portland Press Herald (http://bit.ly/17uBiiL) that business is down 15 to 20 percent since mid-January.
High-end restaurants suffer because customers don’t want to walk through snow in nice shoes and clothes.
But Becky’s Diner owner Becky Rand says she’s received steady business from police and plow drivers.
In southeastern Virginia, a program helps residents shovel out if they can’t do it themselves — but it says it needs volunteers.
Virginia Beach-based Operation Blessing operates the “Snow Buddy” program and has set up a mobile command center.
With parts of Virginia under nearly a foot of snow, the team has received more than 100 requests. Priority is given to the elderly, sick, disabled and single mothers.
ICY MARSH RESCUE
Firefighters in Revere, Massachusetts, rescued a man and his two dogs from an icy marsh.
Authorities say the dogs ran into the marsh Thursday morning and became stranded when a piece of ice they were on floated about 500 feet from the shore. The man tried to rescue the dogs, but got stuck in waist-high water and started having chest pains.
Firefighters pulled the man to safety and brought him to Massachusetts General Hospital. His name and condition haven’t been released.
FROZEN BASS FISHING
In South Carolina, the start of the three-day Bassmaster Classic is being delayed about 90 minutes, pushing first launch to about 8:30 a.m. Friday when temperatures are forecast to be 17 degrees.
Still, the competitors will cast their lines amid finger-chilling temperatures when they head out on sprawling Lake Hartwell, located along the border of South Carolina and Georgia.