Energy & Environment

Bitter wind chills as low as -109 degrees recorded in Northeast as cold blast continues

Bitter wind chills as low as more than 100 below zero are being recorded in the Northeastern United States this weekend as cold continues to blast the region. 

The combination of low temperatures and strong winds caused what was likely the U.S.’s lowest-ever reported wind chill of negative 109 degrees Fahrenheit at Mount Washington in New Hampshire. 

The National Weather Service (NWS) said Saturday that temperatures in parts of the Northeast to coastal mid-Atlantic will be between 10 and 30 degrees below normal over the weekend. The conditions have been caused by air from the Arctic escaping south because of a weakened polar vortex, a region of cold air that usually stays in the same region around the North Pole. 

Blizzard warnings have also been issued for numerous cities throughout Maine that are planned to remain in effect until 7 p.m. Saturday, with wind gusts as strong as 45 miles per hour and “dangerously cold” wind chills as low as 65 degrees below zero forecast in the state.

The NWS said these wind chills can cause frostbite on exposed skin in as little as five minutes. Widespread blowing snow could also greatly reduce visibility throughout parts of the state and cause whiteout conditions. 

The NWS instructed people to not travel or to have a “winter survival kit” with them if they must. Travelers should stay in their vehicles if they get stranded. 

The Maine State Police tweeted Saturday morning that it was closing part of a highway, Route 1, until further notice as crews were unable to keep up with heavy snow drifting and whiteout conditions. 

In Boston, Mayor Michelle Wu (D) declared a cold emergency on Friday effective through Sunday because of the conditions. The city was expected to face wind chills below zero both Friday and Saturday. 

The threshold for a cold emergency to be issued in the city is a day or more of wind chills at or below minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Wind chills were forecast to drop to negative 21 degrees on Friday and negative 27 degrees on Saturday. 

The Boston Police Department was set to conduct wellness checks and help with transporting people to shelters as needed. 

The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services also announced that a “Code Blue” was in effect for many of the state’s counties. It tweeted that people should call 211 if they need information about finding food, shelter or health care in light of the emergency. 

The NWS has said temperatures should begin to rise on Sunday.

Tags Arctic air below zero blizzard warnings drifting snow National Weather Service NWS polar vortex whiteout conditions windchills

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