Stubborn cold in the West that dropped temperatures below those in Alaska left songbirds lying frozen dead on the ground in California, froze a cash register shut in New Mexico and threatened flooding along ice-clogged rivers.
The temperature was 32 below in Gallup, N.M. - so cold that the cash register wouldn't open at Kristy's Coffee Shop unless cashiers thawed it with a portable heater."It's colder here than it is where my parents are in Alaska. And the last time I talked to my parents it was only 20 below," said Tracey Francis of the Sunwest Bank in Gallup.
Meteorologist Allan Rowell in Albuquerque said the reading of 38 below zero at Dulce made the city the coldest in the nation on Monday.
In Alaska early Tuesday, it was 34 degrees in Anchorage and 8 degrees in Fairbanks. Boise, Idaho, was 16 below, and Albuquerque was 5.
Readings of 20 below zero or colder were reported Monday in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Nevada.
The number of deaths blamed on the weather since the record cold snap began rose to at least 79 by Monday. Most were traffic deaths blamed on slippery roads. Others were killed by hypothermia, tornadoes and house fires.
In Santa Cruz, Calif., people reported songbirds lying frozen dead on the ground after a record low of 19 - the coldest temperature ever recorded in the seaside city about 80 miles south of San Francisco.
Frozen waterpipes continued to burst throughout the region, and the cold weather caused a jump in house fires and made firefighting more difficult.
"In the past seven days, there's been an inordinately large number of fires," said Lt. Greg Keller, a fire investigator with the fire department in Portland, Ore.
The cold snap affected Christmas sales as temperatures in the teens in Oregon burst more waterpipes and created havoc.
Only eight of the 79 rooms at the Bard's Inn Motel in Ashland could be rented because broken pipes had caused major water damage, said Teresa Loe, assistant manager.
In Idaho and Washington state, huge ice floes clogged several rivers and threatened to overflow their banks. Along the St. Joe River crews on Sunday failed to blast a channel through a 2-mile ice jam near Calder.