Latest: Inmates complain of cold in New York federal lockup
CHICAGO (AP) — The Latest on the frigid weather in the Midwest and Northeast (all times local):
Public defenders and a correction officers’ union say more than 1,000 inmates have been stuck in cold cells at a federal jail in New York for at least a week.
The lead federal defender in Brooklyn, Deirdre von Dornum, tells The New York Times that inmates have flooded federal defenders’ offices with calls about poor heating, little or no hot water and dark cells at the Metropolitan Detention Center.
Paralegal Rachel Bass says “frantic” callers couldn’t get extra blankets or clothing and complained of congestion and sore throats.
One inmate said a corrections officer checked the temperature in a housing unit and it was 34 degrees.
Jail officials say the building experienced a partial power outage on Saturday but denied that it affected heat and hot water supply.
A FedEx worker has been found dead outside in a western Illinois city that has been experiencing record low temperatures, and authorities are investigating if the extreme cold played a factor in his death.
Police say a colleague found the body of 69-year-old William L. Murphy between two semitrailers at the delivery company’s East Moline facility Thursday morning, when Moline hit a record low of minus 33 degrees (-36 Celsius).
Rock Island County Coroner Brian Gustafson says Murphy’s death “appears to be medical or natural” and that an autopsy scheduled for Monday will determine if the frigid temperature played a role.
FedEx Corp. said in a statement that the company is saddened and working with local authorities as they investigate.
Temperatures are starting to rise after a week of life-threatening cold across the Midwest and Northeast.
Dickinson, North Dakota, surpassed the freezing mark of 32 degrees above zero (0 Celsius) midmorning Friday, making the city more than 50 degrees warmer than its low of minus 17 (-27 C) on Tuesday.
National Weather Service meteorologist Adam Jones says the abrupt change in weather is due to a shift in the prevailing winds. Instead of northerly winds bringing down frigid arctic air, westerly winds are ushering in milder Pacific air. He says the warmup will continue moving east and make it to the Great Lakes and the Northeast this weekend.
Experts say the rapid thaw is unprecedented and could create problems of its own — bursting pipes, flooding rivers and crumbling roads.
Authorities say one person has died in a crash involving a salt truck on Interstate 70 in central Indiana.
Indiana State Police Sgt. John Perrine tells the Indianapolis Star that the crash happened about 6:15 a.m. Friday near Monrovia in Hendricks County. Perrine says the Indiana Department of Transportation salt truck pulled over due to a mechanical issue and its hazard lights were on. He says another vehicle struck the truck’s rear and the person in that vehicle died.
The crash happened as a snow storm moved across Indiana, bringing 1 to 3 inches (2.5 to 7.5 centimeters) of accumulation. The storm follows a deep freeze that saw temperatures as low as minus 25 (-31 C) in LaPorte on Thursday morning.
Temperatures are forecast to rise in the coming days, with highs reaching the 50s in Indiana on Sunday.
Authorities in New York say the death of a homeless man whose frozen body was found in a suburban Buffalo bus shelter might be related to the arctic cold that has blanketed much of the northern U.S. this week.
An autopsy was planned to determine whether the man found in the village of Williamsville froze to death or died of another cause. His name wasn’t immediately released.
The number of deaths that could be blamed on the subzero cold has climbed to at least 17. The deaths have occurred in eight states, from Iowa to New York.
The frigid conditions are starting to ease in the Midwest, where a dramatic swing of as much as 80 degrees was expected within days in parts of the region.
Authorities are investigating the death of a man found frozen in his backyard in a Milwaukee suburb.
The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office responded to the home in Cudahy on Thursday, the same day temperatures plunged to record lows in several Midwestern cities.
No details about the man or what preceded his death were immediately released. An autopsy is scheduled.
At least 16 deaths are now blamed on the bitterly cold weather that has held much of the region in a historic deep freeze.
The frigid conditions are starting to ease, and a dramatic swing of as much as 80 degrees was expected within days in parts of the region.
Water main breaks and burst pipes have disrupted operations at several facilities in Michigan amid bitterly cold weather, including a Detroit court and a university library.
The 36th District Court was closed Friday amid flooding caused by a burst pipe. The damage follows this week’s subzero temperatures. A restoration company will work through the weekend to get the court ready to reopen Monday.
In suburban Detroit, the Kresge Library at Oakland University was closed Friday due to flooding caused by a water main break. And in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the city of Escanaba was cleared to resume using water after a water main break.
Similar problems are expected amid a rapid thaw. A flood warning remains in effect along the Muskegon River in western Michigan due to an ice jam.
Many of the same Midwestern commuters who bundled up like polar explorers this week might soon get by with a light jacket.
Forecasts say the region will see a rapid thaw over the next few days, with temperatures climbing by as much as 80 degrees. Experts say it’s unprecedented, and it could create problems of its own such as bursting pipes, flooding rivers and crumbling roads.
Jeff Masters is meteorology director of the Weather Underground firm. He says past cold waves have not dissipated this quickly.
Rockford, Illinois, saw a record-breaking minus 31 (minus 35 Celsius) on Thursday but should be around 50 (10 Celsius) on Monday. Other previously frozen areas can expect temperatures of 55 (13 Celsius) or higher.