The first cold wave of the season brought an early white Christmas to much of the East yesterday and kept winter-haven states such as Florida in an icy grip. In the West, wind...

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The first cold wave of the season brought an early white Christmas to much of the East yesterday and kept winter-haven states such as Florida in an icy grip. In the West, wind gusts nearing 100 mph raked Colorado.

The arctic weather was blamed for several deaths — one in Michigan and two traffic deaths in New Jersey — and was a factor in at least three deaths in Minnesota.

A search continued for the second day yesterday for a little boy who had wandered from his home in Pennsylvania.

In Warwick, R.I., an American Airlines flight skidded off an icy runway connector yesterday as it prepared for takeoff from T.F. Green Airport; no one was injured.

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The severe wind in Colorado forced skiers off the slopes in Breckenridge, closed highways and peeled the roof off a high-school gym while a basketball team practiced. No serious injuries were reported.

Temperatures from Michigan to Pennsylvania ranged from the teens to below zero, while the Gulf Coast states recorded temperatures in the 20s and 30s as a cold front pushed East and arctic air rushed in behind.

“We feel like we’re at the ski slopes instead of Disney World,” said Amy Dawkins, 31, from Rockingham, N.C., visiting Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The cold wave dropped temperatures to near or below freezing in north Florida and into the 40s in central Florida.

North Carolina’s Outer Banks got a rare dusting of snow.

“We’re 22 [degrees] trying to hit 23,” said meteorologist John Elardo in Newport, N.C.

Blizzardlike conditions were reported for much of Michigan — and another arctic blast and heavy snow were expected today.

Thermometers registered below zero across West Virginia, including minus-2 at Charleston and 14 below at Snowshoe, the National Weather Service said. As much as 6-1/2 inches of snow coated mountain roads in the state, where 21 school districts closed for the day and others opened late.

Temperatures in Bentleyville, Pa., south of Pittsburgh, dropped to 10 below zero, and Greensboro, N.C., posted a record low for Dec. 20 at 9 above. It was minus-4 at Kingdom Come State Park in Kentucky.

Farther north, it was 18 below zero at 9 a.m. at Massena, N.Y., with a wind chill of 28 below, the weather service said.

About 100 police, firefighters, and volunteers searched in the freezing weather yesterday for a 9-year-old boy missing since Saturday near South Williamsport, Pa. Temperatures were in the single digits Sunday night.