The Numbing of America

Snow and chilling frosts and death beneath the Potomac's icy waters

Cold, so awfully cold. It seemed as if winter's hard core had descended from out of the Arctic all at once, freezing not just a town or a city here and there, but giving nearly the whole U.S. a case of chilblains. The week began with thermometers reading lower than they had in decades, a century, ever. Then the astonishing chill spread, breaking weather records all week long in 75 cities.

There was at first a certain shivery merriment, a sense of shared rigor....

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