NEW YORK - A winter storm packing fierce winds, frigid temperatures and snow pounded the Northeast on Thursday, causing school closings, flight delays and fender-benders.
Temperatures weren't expected to rise out of the single digits Thursday across much of the region, and even worse conditions could be the offing for Friday, forecasters said.
It was so cold in Maine that Gov. John Baldacci declared a civil emergency Wednesday. The temperature once again dipped well below zero Thursday morning, hitting 31 below at Ninemile Bridge.
"Words like 'agony' take on a whole new meaning on a day like this," said Michael-John Pierce, 22, of Darien, Conn., who was skiing at the Sunday River resort in Maine.
Earlier, the heaviest snow of the storm fell in Minnesota to Michigan, where strong winds produced blizzard-like conditions in parts of the Great Lakes and Upper-Midwest.
Up to 11 inches of snow fell in Wisconsin, and 10 inches fell in Detroit's far northern suburbs on Wednesday. Portions of Michigan were already under as much as 10 inches of snow when the storm rolled in.
"I'm brushing as much snow out of my eyes as I am off my car," said Layla Abdul-Rahman, 32, of Dearborn. "This would be a good time to buy a ticket back to Lebanon."
As the snow moved eastward, Erie, Pa., received 8.3 inches in 24 hours. New York City recorded 5 inches before the snowfall tapered off to flurries at midmorning Thursday.
Slick roads produced spinouts and fender-benders; hundreds of schools were closed, and even some ferries linking New Jersey and New York City were iced in, forcing commuters to hop buses or catch ferries still running elsewhere. Two New York area airports, La Guardia and Newark Liberty, reported more than 200 flights canceled.
But it was the frigid temperatures - coupled with high wind that produced severe wind chill - that were the main worry in most areas.
In Whitefield, N.H., the temperature dipped as low as 35 degrees below zero Thursday. Watertown, N.Y., saw a reading of 31 below Thursday, with a wind chill of minus 46.
The bitter cold was expected to continue or worsen into Friday in much of the Northwest. In the Philadelphia area, thermometers were expected to hit zero for the first time in a decade.
With a wind chill of 20 below zero in the forecast for Thursday night, New York City's Department of Homeless Services and other agencies launched a search for people on the streets.
Outreach teams were prepared to bring anyone in, even against their will, if they were at risk of losing life or limb, said Jim Anderson, a department spokesman.
Anyone outside unprotected in the low temperatures will "realize it in about five minutes," meteorologist Adrienne Leptich said. "Their faces will start getting numb."