U.S. cold snap even worse for those still without heat after Sandy

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By Jonathan Allen | January 25, 2013 6:49 AM EST

Arctic air hovering over the United States on Thursday made life miserable for New Yorkers still without heat months after Superstorm Sandy and just plain weird for Pennsylvanians shovelling snow tied to a nuclear power plant's steam release.

The latest in a string of frigid days, from the Northeast to Midwest, plunged the mercury to 29 below zero Fahrenheit (minus 34 Celsius) in Ely, Minnesota, according to the National Weather Service. And that's with no wind child - the stunningly low number was recorded under calm skies near Minnesota's border with Canada, NWS said.

"It's just getting colder and colder," said Doreen Greenwood-Garson, chief of the Gerritsen Beach Fire Department in Brooklyn, where about 200 homes slammed by Sandy in October are still without heat.

Nightly during this week's cold snap, the volunteer department has loaded its ambulance with donated space heaters and free hot meals and delivered them to shut-ins, said Greenwood-Garson, a real estate broker. Already it has given away a total of 60 space heaters and each night about 50 meals, she said.

In Long Beach on New York's Long Island, another community where some residents remain without heat after their homes were hard hit by Sandy's ocean surge, the Martin Luther King Center, a community gathering spot, ran out of donated space heaters, said a spokeswoman.

Temperatures were expected to inch up a bit when a late-week snowstorm predicted for Friday was likely to blanket Midwestern and Atlantic coastal states, according to meteorologist Alex Sosnowski of Accuweather.com.

A blizzard of tweets hit Twitter after steam from cooling stacks of a nuclear power plant in Shippingport, Pennsylvania, 30 miles northwest of Pittsburgh near the Ohio border, met the cold snap on Tuesday.

The result -- lake-effect snow fell over area homes for about six hours, said Fred McMullen, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. Ground-level cold air met the stacks' warm moist air, forming a cloud that produced snowflakes, he said.

"Don't eat glowing snow!" Philadelphia Daily News reporter David Murphy jokingly wrote on Twitter.

Accuweather.com noted the Shippingport snow was neither fluorescent nor radioactive.

(Additional reporting by David Bailey in Minneapolis and Drew Singer in Pittsburgh, Writing by Barbara Goldberg, Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and David Gregorio)

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