Arctic blast grips US Northeast, bringing frostbite-threatening temperatures
WORCESTER: Friday, a strong arctic blast hit the Northeast of the United States, dropping temperatures to dangerously low levels. In New Hampshire’s Mount Washington, the wind chill dropped to -79 degrees Celsius (105 degrees below zero Fahrenheit).
Wind chill warnings were put up for most of New York state and all six New England states (Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine), which is home to about 16 million people.
The National Weather Service (NWS) said that the deep freeze would only last a few days, but that the freezing cold and biting winds that would hit the Northeast would make it dangerous to be outside until Saturday.
Schools in Boston and Worcester, Massachusetts, New England’s two biggest cities, were closed on Friday because kids walking to school or waiting for buses could get hypothermia or frostbite.
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu declared a state of emergency through Sunday and opened warming centres to help the city’s more than 650,000 residents deal with a cold front that the NWS said could be “once in a generation.”
A floating museum that shows a daily reenactment of the Boston Tea Party of 1773, when colonists dressed as Native Americans threw crates of taxed tea into Boston Harbor as a protest, had to close because it was so cold.
The museum’s front desk worker said on Friday, “It’s too cold for that, we’re closed.”
Early on Friday, a weather service forecaster named Bob Oravec said that the centre of the arctic surge coming into the US from eastern Canada was over the US Plains. At 1 pm EST, the coldest place in America was in Kabetogama, Minnesota, near the border with Ontario. The temperature there was minus 39 F. (-39.5 C).
As the day went on, windy, below-freezing weather moved east. This caused wind-chill factors, which measure the combined effects of wind and cold on the body, to drop into the -40s in much of Maine, said NWS meteorologist Brian Hurley.
Mount Washington State Park is the highest point in the Northeast. On Friday night, the temperature dropped to -45 degrees Fahrenheit (-46 degrees Celsius), and Hurley says that steady winds of 90 miles per hour brought the wind chill to -105 degrees Fahrenheit (-76 degrees Celsius).
On Friday morning, the air temperature in Eureka, Canada, which is the northernmost Arctic weather station in the world, was -41 F (-41 C).
On Friday night, the temperature in Boston was 8 degrees Fahrenheit (-13 degrees Celsius), while in Worcester, Massachusetts, 40 miles (64 km) to the west, it was 3 degrees Fahrenheit (-16 degrees Celsius), and Hurley said that temperatures were expected to drop even more.
Saturday was expected to be the coldest day ever in both cities. Forecasts said that Boston would have a low of -6 F, which would be colder than the record low of -2 F for the date, which was set in 1886. Worcester was going to have a low of -11 on Saturday, which would be colder than the previous record for the date, which was set in 1934 at -4.
“Before it gets really cold.”
Even though it was very cold, Belgian Nhon Ma was selling Belgian waffles from his Zinneken’s food truck near Boston University on Friday. He kept warm by having three or four waffle irons going at once.
“Those make heat, but of course it’s cold, it’s going to be cold, but we’re here,” Ma said.
Katie Pinard, the owner of a coffee and book shop in Biddeford, Maine, about 95 miles (150 km) north of Boston, said that business was good because people were coming in from the cold. Some even chose to work from her shop, Elements: Books Coffee Beer, rather than drive to work.
“Yeah, Mainers are pretty tough, but talk to me tomorrow and we’ll see if we’re busy or not,” she said, looking ahead to Saturday morning when temperatures were expected to drop to -18 F. (-28 C). “I think people are getting things done outside before it gets really cold.”
While people in the Northeast hunkered down, Texas and parts of the South were starting to warm up. This was after a deadly winter ice storm that brought days of freezing rain, sleet, and ice, knocking out power to millions of people and making roads dangerously icy.
But the weather was getting warmer. Forecasts say that the temperature in Austin, Texas, will reach 52 F (11 C) on Friday and 71 F (22 C) on Monday.
Also, a storm in the Pacific was expected to bring more heavy snow to the Sierra Nevada mountains in California on Saturday night. Lower elevations of central and northern California, as well as the Pacific Northwest, were expected to get moderate rain at times through the weekend.