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Big Apple ball drop is on as brutally cold weather ices plans in Northeast

Frigid weather grips U.S.

Brutally cold weather has iced plans for scores of events in the Northeast from New Year's Eve through New Year's Day. But the show will go on in New York City, where people will start gathering in Times Square up to nine hours before the famous ball drop.

Authorities are warning revelers to dress in layers, cover exposed skin, lay off the booze and bring some hand warmers. They say it could be one of the coldest New Year's Eve ball drops on record.

The coldest New Year's Eve in Times Square was in 1917, when it was 1 degree at midnight. This year, the forecast is for 11 degrees with a wind chill around zero, which would tie for second with 1962.

Extra New York Fire Department personnel are going to be on hand to provide medical support.

Meanwhile, frigid conditions in Boston are taking their toll on the nation's fifth-largest transit system. 

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority has spent heavily to winterize what's known as the "T'' since it was crippled by record-breaking snowfall in 2015. But the agency reported "severe delays" on one of its lines Friday, citing a broken piece of track and a disabled train among other problems.

Keolis Boston operates the commuter rail system for the MBTA and reported delays on several of its lines.

A company spokesman says crews worked through the night to repair cracked rails and broken switches ahead of the morning commute, but he says it's not always enough to deal with the extreme conditions. 

Much of U.S. facing arctic chill through the new year

Commuters were advised to dress in layers to stay warm while waiting on platforms. 

Across the U.S., the toll from record-breaking snowfalls and temperatures across the U.S. is starting to pile up. Bitter temperatures and snow squalls have been blamed for a handful of deaths. 

Already winter-weary parts of the nation are dealing with a mounting number of weather-related headaches, from highway pileups to frozen pipes and a rash of car thefts. Police in the Cincinnati area said a half-dozen cars have been stolen in recent days after being left running unattended by owners trying to warm them up.

In Erie, Pennsylvania, a five-foot snowfall is now frozen in place, with residents marooned underneath it. 

Homeless shelters in Chicago were jammed with people like Lee Lane. Imagine a person without this," Lane said. "I can't even imagine that. You would pretty much die in the street. You would freeze to death."

Along Cape Cod, three thresher sharks have washed up frozen since Wednesday.

In Boston, Mayor Martin Walsh warned this weekend will be arctic. "The only thing I know to guarantee is the ice sculptures will not melt for the next three days," Walsh said.