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One way to test your mettle in winter is to take one of those quick penguin plunges in icy water. But some stoic swimmers actually carve pools out of frozen lakes and race each other.

The sport of winter swimming is popular abroad, especially in Russia, Scandinavia and China. But last weekend, a newly formed organization to promote winter swimming in the United States held its first national competition on the Vermont-Quebec border.

After Superstorm Sandy in 2012, Kathy Hanlon's life crumbled. Her Long Beach, N.Y., home had no electricity, her family was traumatized and one of her sons was getting sick. On top of that, there was the bureaucratic maze of flood insurance.

"I cried many times because I was so angry when I got off the phone with the insurance company," Hanlon says. "It was demeaning. We had to send them things repeatedly. We had to wait for phone calls. We had to wait for people to come visit the house."

The Arctic cold snap that has gripped much of the U.S. lately may be causing hardship for many, but it's also creating some spectacular ice formations at Niagara Falls. The spectacle is drawing huge crowds on both the Canadian and American side of the border.

The air temperature is so cold that the water and mist coming off the falls is frozen in place. Some of the formations look like massive boulders, others look like long shards of white glass.

The Connecticut Gological Survey

Following a series of small earthquakes in the eastern part of Connecticut, WNPR’s Patrick Skahill set out on a mission to find out what was causing so many to occur over such a short period of time. Turns out, to fully understand, you have to go back hundreds of millions of years to a time when our state was being rocked by a massive continental collision. 

BenFrantzDale / Creative Commons

Temperatures have plummeted in Connecticut, with the wind chill nearly 20 degrees below zero. But how is wind chill actually calculated? To answer that question, I learned about the number's colorful -- and changing -- history.

It was the 1940s. Two scientists were in the Antarctic; it was windy -- and they decided to try an experiment.

Boston has had more than 72 inches of snow in the past 30 days, breaking a record set in 1978, the National Weather Service says. The city has repeatedly been among the hardest-hit by several winter storms — and it could get another 4 to 6 inches later this week.

ecksunderscore / Creative Commons

The winter wonderland that comes with fresh snow is often a double-edged sword for many Connecticut families with school-aged children. With no school, instructional time is swapped for fun time. This can create all kind of problems, from the school to the student to home life.

In a huge vacant for sale lot in the Seaport District — on which someday there will be an office building — presently sits the city’s biggest pile of snow.

It’s Boston’s largest snow farm. The snow is dumped here from all over the city. Fifteen- to 20-foot-high piles, almost as far as the eye can see, have been moved onto this lot.

Gov. Charlie Baker says metro Boston's aging MBTA subway lines will be operating on an "abbreviated" schedule and not normal workday times. Commuter trains will attempt to maintain a weekday schedule, but delays are likely.

Hilda Muñoz / City of Hartford

Hartford residents paid close attention to last week’s parking ban in the city, making it relatively easy for snow plows to do their work. But that’s not the case this time around. 

The city’s parking ban went into effect on Sunday night at 11:00 pm. Deputy Chief Brian Foley was all over Twitter reminding people to move their cars.

But it didn’t really work.

Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this morning, which, according to tradition, portends another six weeks of winter.

Update at 8:13 p.m. ET. Lots Of Snow:

As it continues to move up the Northeast Coast, a potent snowstorm is already a record breaker. Take these two highlights, for example:

-- NBC Chicago reports that Feb. 1, 2015, is now the snowiest first day of February in history. And with 19.3 inches of snow recorded, this is the fifth-largest snow event in city history.

Cindy Cornett Seigle/Flickr

The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers has dire predictions for many of the coastline communities in Connecticut and Long Island.

A report released on Wednesday, "North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study: Resilient Adaptation to Increasing Risk," took two years and covered 31,000 miles of coastline along ten states. It says climate change is putting the region at risk of more flooding and more superstorms like Sandy in 2012.

Joeseph Vietri, with the ACE, said western Long Island and western Connecticut are particularly vulnerable, which is a problem because they're such heavily populated areas. "Not all of them have the ability and the wherewithal to pick up and just move," he said. "So there are entire cities, towns, and villages that are under direct threat."

Harriet Jones / WNPR

Connecticut may apply for a federal disaster declaration for the towns most heavily affected by Tuesday’s blizzard, but Governor Dannel Malloy has said he’s not sure whether it will succeed.

Malloy visited Stonington in the far southeastern corner of the state Wednesday to see the cleanup efforts for himself.

Like many towns in Eastern Connecticut, Stonington was clobbered with more than two feet of snow and heavy gusting winds. 

NASA/NOAA

With meteorologists predicting the latest storm would bring 15 to 30 inches of snow across Connecticut, cities and towns prepared for the worst. But the latest storm brought a mixed bag.

Eastern Connecticut was clobbered, while western parts of the state were not hit nearly as hard as expected.

Speaking on WNPR’s Where We Live, Mayor Mark Boughton said the forecasters who predicted two feet of snow in Danbury got it wrong, and that means that people may not believe him when the next storm heads our way.

The Wheelhouse Digs Out

Jan 28, 2015
Gov. Dannel Malloy Office / Twitter

The blizzard has moved on from Connecticut and we're moving on with our regularly scheduled programming. Our weekly news roundtable The Wheelhouse will recap the week's news, from Governor Malloy's response to the storm, to last week's bizarre capitol cafeteria summit regarding the state budget. Also, one Hartford-based company that benefited from a state economic development deal is in trouble.

A day after a monstrous winter storm spun its way across the Northeast, life is slowly getting back to normal.

Some residents of Massachusetts are digging out of almost 3 feet of snow. The AP reports that a travel ban has been lifted and Boston's highways are filling up with traffic.

Still, the AP adds:

Harriet Jones / WNPR

Eastern Connecticut got the brunt of the storm Monday night into Tuesday, with some areas recording two feet of snow by early morning.

Snow continued to fall through the day, and forecasters said the region could expect up to nine more inches before the storm moves on.

But the power remained on, and most people were cheerful as they began to dig out.

Residents across the state are digging out of the blizzard that dumped more than two feet on parts of the state. Gov. Gina Raimondo lifted the state’s travel ban last night. She thanked Rhode Islanders for staying off the roads. There was a fire in Providence and a handful of accidents, but no major injuries from the storm.

Tucker Ives / WNPR

Blizzard warnings eased early Tuesday for parts of Connecticut, but central and eastern parts of the state saw continuing snowfall and strong winds through midday. By noon, most counties were downgraded to a winter storm warning as a powerful nor'easter made its way across the state.

A statewide travel ban lifted in Connecticut at 2:00 pm. Local roads were opened in Litchfield and Fairfield Counties early Tuesday morning, but Governor Dannel Malloy asked residents to wait before getting on the roads if possible. State bus service will resume Wednesday, and state employees return to work in the morning.

Heather Brandon / WNPR

Before this winter storm, the state activated its severe cold weather protocol. It’s an effort to make sure no resident is without shelter during a weather emergency.

Anthony Quintano / Creative Commons

Calling in to WNPR's Where We Live on Tuesday, Michael from Middletown shared a poem he wrote in honor of Blizzard 2015. 

Harriet Jones / WNPR

Approaches to getting information and making decisions for Connecticut school closings vary widely among the state's towns. For some school districts, it’s almost like a science. 

Take Torrington, for example. The district pays about $3,000 a year to a weather alert service in Burlington for daily weather updates and for consulting services. This helps officials determine if and when to close school due to bad weather.

Sharon Mollerus / Creative Commons

If you’ve been watching the news the last few days, you’d know our region was bracing for what could be an “historic” storm. But can anything really be historic when we’ve seen so many similar events over the past few years?

Kate Ter Haar / Creative Commons

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night? Not exactly. The U.S. Postal Service said it won't be delivering mail to a large swath of the northeast. 

MTA Metro-North Railroad

Amtrak says it's suspending service north of New York and reducing its schedule for trains operating south of New York due to the massive winter storm.

Northeast Regional and Acela Express services are operating on a reduced schedule between New York and Washington. The Keystone Service between New York and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, also is reduced. 

First the good news: Forecasts of a historic winter storm for the country's most populous city have failed to materialize.

Forecasters had called for up to 30 inches of snow in New York City, but as a new day dawned, meteorologists had downgraded the system to a winter storm from a blizzard and tempered their forecasts, saying when it was all done, the city would have about 12 inches of snow on the ground.

Office of Dannel Malloy

Governor Dannel Malloy is asking residents to prepare for a significant snowstorm impacting Connecticut Monday evening through Tuesday. He declared a state of emergency, opened the Emergency Operations Center, and issued a travel ban on state highways as of 9:00 pm Monday.

Malloy said Bradley International Airport is closing to passengers at 7:00 pm Monday night. He said the last Metro-North train would leave Grand Central Station in New York City at 9:00 pm.

"Although storms can be unpredictable, this storm has the potential to have a significant impact on the state and we need to be prepared," Malloy said. "Just as the state is monitoring and preparing, the public should do the same."

Christine / Creative Commons

The University of Connecticut announced plans to close on Monday afternoon in advance of the winter storm.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

We decided to bow to reality, and make this hour all about getting ready for the storm. You’ve heard about the storm, right? We begin today with NBC Connecticut meteorologist Ryan Hanrahan, and find out why this particular storm has his profession in such a lather.

Then we move on to what most -- ideally all -- of you will be doing from Monday night through Wednesday morning: staying put.

Culture critic Linda Holmes and I will discuss some viewing recommendations. Watch them until the power goes out. If and when that happens, maybe you’ll still be able to read. You’ve still got time to add to your e-reader or physically pick up some of the books our final guest John Warner and I will be discussing. Warner is one of the commentators in a March tournament of literary fiction.

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