'Extremely dangerous' cold grips Northeast
BOSTON, Massachusetts (CNN) --The northeastern United States faced more bitter cold and high winds Thursday, with forecasters warning of "extremely dangerous" wind chills as low as 45 degrees below zero in eastern Massachusetts.
In Vermont, Gov. James Douglas appeared live on the state's largest television network to urge New England residents to conserve energy and help prevent rolling blackouts, which may be needed in an extreme circumstance.
Douglas said ISO New England, the company responsible for maintaining the region's power grid, is preparing to shut off power to some customers on Friday, if necessary, in order to keep the grid working.
The weather has created high demand for electricity and as a result some power generating plants ran out of natural gas Thursday and increased the burden on other plants, according to ISO New England.
Steve Costello, a spokesman for the Central Vermont Public Service Corp., said if the rolling blackouts are needed it would be a first for the region.
"We've never had to resort to that to maintain the stability of the system," Costello said. "But there has been very, very high demand in New England today."
Galen Crader, CNN weather forecaster, predicts the sub-freezing temperatures will remain through the middle of next week. Sub-zero temperatures, however, could begin to fade away as early as Friday afternoon.
"These values can produce frostbite in just 10 or 15 minutes," a National Weather Service advisory said. "If you don't have to travel or be outside late tonight or early tomorrow, then stay indoors."
In Maine, where wind chills could dip to 50 below zero Friday morning, Gov. John Baldacci declared a state of emergency in hopes of convincing federal highway regulators to allow longer driving hours for truckers carrying fuel oil.
"These conditions threaten public health and safety and endanger public property if fuel oil cannot be delivered to Maine homes and businesses," Baldacci's declaration said.
About 20 coffee-drinkers were crammed into a coffee shop in Portland, Maine, on Thursday morning, according to server Jamie Deering. "It's really cold, I mean, it's going down to 15 below at night," Deering said. "I didn't even take my trash out last night and my car is frozen."
In Boston the temperature reached a high of negative 2 degrees Thursday. The city's largest homeless shelter, which provides 700 beds, has been packed.
But one woman on a Boston street said area residents know how to deal with that type of weather:
"Dress in layers, keep moving and just try to have that old, good New England character," she said.
Business was off Thursday at a Waffle House restaurant in Tewkesbury, Massachusetts, said cook Sandra Starke. "It's awful, very cold," she said. "We just got a dusting [of snow] but it's so cold nobody wants to come out."
New Hampshire's Mount Washington Observatory, which boasts of having "The world's worst weather," recorded temperatures of 28 degrees below zero Fahrenheit on Thursday morning with a wind chill of 71 degrees below zero.
"It's actually very wonderful to be up here, to just be able to experience the weather extremes here that Mother Nature throws at you," said meteorologist Tim Markle from a weather station on the mountain. "A lot of people don't like the cold, but we're loving it up here."
CNN's Adaora Udoji, Laura Bernardini and CNN.com writer Thom Patterson contributed to this report.
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