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A winter storm that battered the state overnight Thursday with high winds and snow left behind abnormally cold temperatures projected to dip to as low as 15 below zero overnight Friday in New London County.
"The wind is staying with us and it'll feel very cold, so I wouldn't recommend going outside or going out for too long," said Kerry Schwindenhammer, a meteorologist at AccuWeather.com.
The New London County area received about 4 to 7 inches of snow overnight into Friday, Schwindenhammer said. Stonington had about 5 inches of snow at 7 a.m., Gales Ferry about 6 inches at 8:40 a.m. and Colchester around 4 inches at 5 a.m.
Schwindenhammer said wind gusts during the peak of the storm reached 35 mph.
The low overnight into today for southern New London County was expected to range from 5 to 10 degrees below zero, and between 10 below and 15 below in the northern part of the county, according to the National Weather Service. Wind chills were forecast to also dip below zero, which could cause frostbite or hypothermia for those exposed to the cold, the weather service warned.
The normal high for January is 39 degrees, while the low is 23.
Schwindenhammer said temperatures will warm up slightly this weekend, but another storm Sunday night into early Monday is expected to bring rain and a mix of snow. The high on Tuesday is expected to be around 15 degrees.
Many residents sought shelter during the cold snap on Thursday and Friday, as overnight shelters welcomed those in need of warmth.
The Homeless Hospitality Center in New London was able to accommodate all 46 people who came to its doors for shelter Thursday, according to Dana Dixon, program manager. She said numbers are typically higher later in the month, after monthly Social Security and SAGA (State Administered General Assistance) checks are spent.
By 7:45 p.m. Friday, 41 people had come in for shelter, but more could continue to seek shelter until 9 p.m. or later, said Celida Baez, the overnight shelter supervisor. "We're letting everybody in so they can stay out of the cold," she said.
There were 42 people staying at Covenant Shelter in New London on Thursday, up from 36 the night before, said Jodie Craig-Atkinson, executive director. On Friday, the demand was so great that the shelter had to house one person in a hotel.
"We're above capacity," Tammy Alger, a frontline staffer at the Covenant Shelter, said Friday evening. "We're completely full."
The shelter is expecting a shipment of additional donated beds soon, which Alger said is particularly necessary during the extremely cold season. On Friday, more were seeking shelter than usual. "The need is definitely much higher," she said.
WARM shelter in Westerly had expected an increase over the 14 people who had been staying there earlier in the week, but no new guests came in Thursday, said Todd Pont, weekend manager. "We're putting the word out for people to come in," he said Friday.
In New London, at least 30 people braved the cold waiting outside the public library, which delayed opening until 1 p.m., until city public works crews could plow the parking lot. The library normally opens at 9:30 a.m. on Fridays.
"There were a lot of people outside our doors," said Suzanne Maryeski, library director. "A lot of people were coming in for DVDs."
Day staff writer Kimberly Drelich contributed to this report.