It was so cold they stopped making beer in Milwaukee. People in Atlanta were asked not to bathe. And a family in New Hampshire opened their refrigerator to chill their food.
Across most of the eastern United States, record low temperatures have closed schools, businesses, roads and airports. Thou-sands of people have been without electricity or drinking water, and utilities are struggling to keep up with record demands for power.Power companies in New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and parts of Pennsylvania cut service to thousands of homes for 15 minutes Wednesday morning to offset an electricity shortage. Other companies asked customers to voluntarily cut back usage.
The Tennessee Valley Authority, which serves all or parts of seven states, expected an all-time high power demand Wednesday, eclipsing its record 24,627 megawatts on Dec. 22, 1989.
At least 66 deaths have been blamed on the cold snap that began over the weekend. Most of the victims were killed on icy roads or had heart attacks shoveling snow. Some froze to death, including a baby born Monday in an unheated house in Dayton, Ohio, where it was a record 25 below zero Tues-day.
"It's the wind. It bites right through your face," Jerry Fitzpatrick, a repairman entering Wisconsin's state Capitol.
"We've got the refrigerator door open to keep the food cold," said Roger Sasseville of Manchester, N.H., eyeing the thermometer in his family's living room. "It's down to 55 and this thing doesn't go any lower."
Letter carriers just bundled up and suffered.
"It's colder than a boss's heart," said Ron Macke, who delivered mail in snowy, 8-below St. Louis County on Tuesday. "I wore everything I owned, and it was still cold."
Record lows were recorded in dozens of cities, including minus 40 in St. Cloud, Minn.; minus 22 in Louisville, Ky.; minus 27 in Indianapolis and minus 22 in Pitts-burgh.
Schools and universities canceled classes Wednesday in much of the Midwest after deadly wind chills and temperatures well below zero were forecast.
"We usually try to hold out, but the chill factor here is minus 50 degrees," said Marilyn Ristevich, a high school principal in Bedford, Mich. "It's a little too chancy."
The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island were closed; the docks in Manhattan were too icy for tourists to board the ferries.
Dulles International Airport outside Washington was closed briefly Tuesday after a Brazilian airliner slid off a runway. Baltimore-Washington International Airport reopened Wednesday after being closed since Monday.
In Milwaukee Wednesday morning, Miller Brewing Co. canceled its evening and morning work shifts because of the weather for the first time in at least 10 years, rather than make employees come to work in the cold. It was 17 below.
"They usually like to make beer, so it takes a lot to shut them down," said Miller spokesman Mike Brophy. "It's nasty out there."