A powerful arctic cyclone literally hit the northeastern United States on Friday, bringing temperatures everywhere to record highs. On Mount Washington in New Hampshire, temperatures could drop to -110 degrees Fahrenheit (-79 degrees Celsius), adjusted for wind, forecasters said.
According to the National Weather Service (NWS), a mass of cold air will keep temperatures at potentially deadly levels through Saturday. The service warns of “extremely dangerous” sanitary conditions due to its “short-term downgrading”.
School districts in Boston and Worcester, two of New England’s largest cities, announced school closures on Friday due to concerns about the risk of hypothermia and frostbite to children.
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu declared a state of emergency until Sunday and opened heating centers to help the city’s more than 650,000 residents cope with what the NWS has warned that it could turn into a “generational cold front”.
Early Friday morning, a core cold air mass forced from the Canadian Arctic toward the United States by high-altitude air currents appeared to be concentrated over the American plains, meteorologist Bob Oravec said.
International Falls, Minnesota was the coldest place in the continental United States on Friday morning, February 3, when temperatures there hovered around -36 F (-38 C).
According to the meteorologist, “the dryness of the air means that the amount of snowfall will be limited”.
“It is moving northeast and Friday temperatures will drop all day,” he added.
Temperatures are expected to drop to a record low of -50 F (-46 C) Friday evening at the northeast’s highest peak, Mount Washington, the New Hampshire Park Service said. By comparison, temperatures at Eureka, Canada’s northernmost Arctic weather station, hovered around -41 F (-41 C) Friday morning.
In chilly Biddeford, Maine, about 95 miles (150 km) north of Boston, cafe and bookstore owner Kathy Pinard said business was booming as customers were hiding from the cold, and some even chose to stay in his store.
“Yeah, we ‘meiners’ (residents of the state) are pretty hardy, but talk to me tomorrow and we’ll see if we do something or not,” she said, anticipating a freezing Saturday morning when the temperature should drop to – 18. F (-28 C).
“I think people went out to get what they needed to do before the real cold hit,” she added.
More than 300,000 homes and businesses in Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee were left without power on Friday after icy power lines, including fallen trees, fell, according to Poweroutage.us.
However, it is already warming up there and temperatures in Austin, Texas are expected to reach 52 F (11 C) on Friday before climbing to 71 F (22 C) by Monday.