Christmas brings blizzard, bitter cold

CHICAGO — The good news for many in the Northeast and Midwest was that it has been a white Christmas. The bad news was that a blizzard swept into parts of New England and bitter cold enveloped much of the Midwest.

Even the usually rainy Pacific Northwest got the white stuff. The National Weather Service said it’s only the sixth time since 1884 that downtown Portland had measurable snow — only an inch or two — on a Dec. 25.

A blizzard warning was issued Monday for portions of Maine and New Hampshire, with forecasters saying snow of up to 10 inches and wind gusts up to 50 mph could make travel “dangerous to impossible.”

Most businesses were already shuttered on Christmas Day in New England. One of the few open was The Tobacconist cigar shop in Tewksbury, Massachusetts, where area-resident Dwayne Doherty said he welcomed the fresh blanket of snow.

“I’m actually happy,” he said, chuckling as he made his way to his pick-up. “We haven’t had snow on Christmas at all in the last few years. It’s actually perfect.”

States from Montana and the Dakotas to Wisconsin expected wind chill temperatures in places at 40 below zero, the National Weather Service said. The upper half of Iowa and northern Illinois also braced for subzero temperatures.

Minnesota was experiencing its most frigid Christmas Day since 1996, with wind chills as cold as 35 degrees below zero, KSTP-TV reported.

Mountain areas in parts of Colorado, Montana and Wyoming received more than 1 foot of snow, which started Saturday. It was good news for holiday skiers and resorts which have struggled with a slow start this season.

But it meant a heightened warning of avalanches in higher elevations outside of ski areas.