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Live updates: Bitter cold hits Washington, U.S.

A woman bundled against the cold walks past a homeless man in McPherson Square as temperatures dipped into the single digits Tuesday morning in Washington. (Mladen Antonov/Getty Images/AFP)

A woman bundled against the cold walks past a homeless man in McPherson Square as temperatures dipped into the single digits Tuesday morning in Washington. (Mladen Antonov/Getty Images/AFP)


A brutal cold is spreading across the United States, with frigid temperatures in Washington and wind chills below zero across the United States. We’re bringing you the latest on conditions in the Washington region as well as news from across the country.

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Winding down our live coverage

We’re going to wind down our live updates now. Make sure to stay with us for the latest on the cold, forecasts and more.

In the meantime, here are some updates you may have missed:

 How cold was it? It was so cold that an escaped prisoner in Kentucky turned himself in to get out of the cold.

 A baby was born in an SUV as the temperatures plummeted.

 So how cold did it really get around the country? Very cold. Seriously, it was so, so cold. (There were historic lows around Washington as well as around the country.)

 But it’s going to warm up!

 The polar vortex caused all of this cold weather. But what is the polar vortex?

 Thousands of flights were canceled or delayed (again).

 This kind of weather event doesn’t bring torrential rains or buckets of snow. Other than how cold it makes us feel, the biggest impact happens under our streets and behind our walls, as pipes freeze and burst.

 Amtrak delays between Washington and New York will linger today, with reduced service between Washington and Boston continuing tomorrow.

 Numbers to call if you see someone in need of shelter.

Mark Berman
January 7, 3:36 pm
  • Mark Berman January 7, 3:36 pm

What does cold look like?

Cold weather looks different to different people depending on where they are, how used to the cold they are and other factors. We gathered photos taken in multiple spots to show how the icy weather looks across the country. (Share your photos on Instagram with the tag #coldsnaps.)

Here’s what it looked like in Detroit:

And here’s the view from Minneapolis:

And here’s another view of Chicago:

For more, head here.

Mark Berman
January 7, 3:34 pm
  • Mark Berman January 7, 3:34 pm

Amtrak plans reduced D.C.-Boston service on Wednesday

Amtrak will again operate fewer trains between Washington and Boston on Wednesday due to the extreme cold, the agency just announced. Acela and Northeast Regional trains will run at a reduced frequency. In addition, riders who use the Empire Service and Keystone Service should expect schedule changes.

Mark Berman
January 7, 3:24 pm
  • Mark Berman January 7, 3:24 pm

How wind chill is calculated

In case you’ve ever wondered how, exactly, the wind chill is calculated, the National Weather Service has an answer — along with a handy chart that lets you calculate the wind chill for yourself. (Just in case you feel like spending this freezing day huddled indoors calculating the wind chill, of course. Anything to stay warm.)

The chart:

And here’s more on how it is determined.

Mark Berman
January 7, 3:19 pm
  • Mark Berman January 7, 3:19 pm

Record low at Dulles, coldest D.C. day since 1996

It took a little longer to determine due to an equipment malfunction, but the National Weather Service has determined that a record-low temperature of 1 degree was measured at Dulles International Airport this morning. The temperature, which was recorded at 7:32 a.m., bests the previous low for this date (8 degrees, set in 1988).

The Capital Weather Gang reports that Washington’s recording stations logged some of the coldest temperatures seen in decades — or ever recorded:

At Reagan National, the low of 6 degrees closed in on the 130 year old mark of 5 degrees. Further north, BWI came in with a low of 3 degrees, colder than the previous record of 8 degrees in 1988…

The low of 6 degrees in D.C., while not a record for the date, is the coldest the city has been since Feb. 5, 1996. Today now also falls among the previous top 20 coldest Jan. mornings in the city since 1946. To pick up record low maximums today, the targets are 18 degrees or lower at D.C., 21 degrees or lower at Dulles, and 22 degrees or lower at BWI.

Mark Berman
January 7, 3:17 pm
  • Mark Berman January 7, 3:17 pm

A busy day for tow truck drivers

It’s been a busy — and chilly — day for Tony Burns, a tow truck driver with AAA who started his shift at 4:30 a.m.

By 11 a.m., he’d responded to nearly a half dozen calls. And in just the 10 minutes it took him to load a 2004 Chrysler Pacifica onto his flatbed truck his sixth call of the day — two more calls had already poured in.

But while Tuesday was cold — the conditions were nothing compared to when he worked through the infamous “Snowmageddon” storms hauling stranded motorists out of bad places in knee — sometimes hip deep — snow, he said.

“Those were tough times,” said the 11-year veteran of hauling and towing. “But today? Very cold and very busy.”

Lori Aratani
January 7, 3:09 pm
  • Lori Aratani January 7, 3:09 pm

Minneapolis-St. Paul temperature tops zero

It took more than 60 hours, but the temperature in Minneapolis-St. Paul finally inched above zero for the first time since Saturday night:

Mark Berman
January 7, 3:03 pm
  • Mark Berman January 7, 3:03 pm

Dozens of GW Hospital rooms flooded

Dozens of rooms at George Washington Hospital were flooded by water that leaked due to the cold, the hospital said Tuesday.

Leaking pipes on the hospital’s fourth and sixth floors caused flooding that wound up impacting 33 patient rooms at around 11:30 a.m., hospital spokesman Steven Taubenkibel wrote in an e-mail to media members. The hospital moved 23 patients to other rooms in the hospital as a result.

The hospital remains open and all elective surgical procedures, the cardiac catheter lab and radiology procedures are continuing normally, Taubenkibel said.

Family members of the patients who were moved are being called, but any patients with other questions can call 202-715-4000 or 202-715-4194.

Mark Berman
January 7, 2:55 pm
  • Mark Berman January 7, 2:55 pm
Mark Berman
January 7, 2:44 pm
  • Mark Berman January 7, 2:44 pm

Despite the cold, ducking out for a smoke

A construction worker, who identified himself only as Jason, stood outside a set of tinted glass doors and took a drag off of a cigarette.

The spot where he stood was the unofficial smoking area for his work site, an unfinished glass box of a building that is part of the massive City Center project in downtown Washington. A few feet from Jason, another worker in a white hard hat named Shane stood with one hand shoved in a pants pocket and the other one holding a lit cigarette.

They said they are used to working — and smoking — outside in harsh conditions.

“You can deal with rain,” Jason said. But wind chills in the low single digits, they agreed, dictated restraint. ”This is probably the last time we will come out,” Shane said.

Usually, Jason said, he would smoke five cigarettes a day. Today, he would probably smoke only two. Did standing in the freezing cold make them want to quit? They shook their heads. Without looking down, Jason dropped his cigarette and ground it with his foot.

“Quitting doesn’t cross my mind,” he said.

— Annys Shin

Mark Berman
January 7, 2:35 pm
  • Mark Berman January 7, 2:35 pm
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