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Enduring cold snap creates headaches at home, on highways


Already winter-weary parts of the Midwest and East Coast are dealing with a mounting number of weather-related headaches, from highway pileups to frozen pipes and a rash of car thefts. And there's more to come.

Bitter temperatures and snow squalls have been blamed for a handful of deaths and canceled a long list of New Year's celebrations.

Icy roads in central Michigan caused more than 30 crashes Friday on highways near Flint while a chain-reaction crash involving about 40 vehicles in the southwestern part of the state left three hurt.

Coastal South Carolina saw a rare bout of freezing rain and drizzle on Friday that forced bridges from Charleston to Myrtle Beach to shut down for de-icing.

Police in the Cincinnati area say a half-dozen cars have been stolen in recent days after being left running unattended by owners trying to warm them up. Cincinnati police warned in a tweet that leaving your car running means "the only person who will be warm is the thief who stole your car."

More snow is on the way in Erie, Pennsylvania, where 65 inches have fallen since Christmas Eve. Now parts of the surrounding county could get up to 16 inches of more snow by Sunday.

A call center set up to help people dig out has been overwhelmed. "The phones have been ringing off the hook," said Josh Jaeger, a coordinator for the center told the Erie Times-News.

Cleanup continued inside Michigan State University's basketball arena after a frozen water pipe burst and flooded a hallway, but the mess wasn't expected to interrupt a game Friday.

Diann Wears, of Toledo, said she was already fed up with winter as she stood along a slush-covered sidewalk while waiting for a bus.

"And it's just the beginning," she said Friday. "I'm sure it will get worse."

Frigid conditions in Boston took their toll on the nation's fifth-largest transit system.

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority has spent heavily to winterize what's known as the "T'' since it was crippled by record-breaking snowfall in 2015. But the agency reported "severe delays" on one of its lines Friday, citing a broken piece of track and a disabled train, among other problems.

Several deaths have been linked to the wintry weather during the past week.

In South Dakota, an 83-year-old woman died from exposure to the cold after she crashed her car and then got out to look for help. Search crews found her body in a ditch on Sunday. Three people were found dead in a canal along Lake Erie earlier this week after their car slid off an icy road.

The National Weather Service predicts another blast of arctic air will chill much of the eastern two-thirds of the U.S. through the weekend and into 2018.

Temperatures could fall into the single digits as far south as Oklahoma and sink to zero or below Friday night in Nebraska and Iowa and remain there for at least three days.

"It's pretty unusual to get that long of a streak where it's completely below zero," said Iowa's State Climatologist Harry Hillaker. "Historically, that doesn't happen very often in Des Moines."

The Pacific Northwest and northern Rockies braced for storms forecasters warned could bring several feet of mountain snow and freezing rain.

With the bitter cold expected to stick around, many New Year's Eve plans are being scuttled.

Shore towns in New Jersey canceled plans for polar bear plunges in the Atlantic Ocean and organizers pulled the plug on the annual light bulb drop in Sunbury, Pennsylvania.

In Boston, organizers of the L Street Brownies plunge scoffed when asked if they were scared off by the weather.

"It's a go. It's always a go. We never give up," Dan Monahan told the Boston Herald about the event that attracts more than 600 swimmers each year and has gone on for more than a century. "We're stubborn people in Boston. We're about tradition."

Fireworks shows have been called off in Omaha and at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey. And New York City's Coney Island says it will be too cold for free rides on the Wonder Wheel and Thunderbolt roller coaster.

Animal advocates urged people to protect their pets from the cold. Wild animals weren't immune from the dangers of winter, either.

In Ohio, wildlife officers mulled how to rescue a deer stuck on an ice-covered river. They managed to lasso the deer with a rope and pull it to shore Friday, but they had to euthanize the injured animal.


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