Dangerous wind chill up to 50 degrees promise Zero is set to sweep across the northeast while parts of the south struggle to thaw from a deadly ice storm.
The chilling winds set to sweep across New England “could be the coldest feeling in decades,” the Weather Prediction Center said.
More than 15 million people are under wind chill warnings or warnings for the Northeast. The alert was in effect from Friday morning until Saturday afternoon.
“This is an epic, generational arctic outbreak,” said the National Weather Service in the Caribou, Maine. “The air mass descending into the region Friday through Friday night is currently the coldest air mass in the northern hemisphere.”
Such extreme conditions can cause frostbite in as little as 10 minutes.
Fortunately, this brutal explosion will only last about 36 hours. Temperatures are expected to rise across much of the Northeast by Sunday afternoon.
But cities further south, paralyzed by a deadly ice storm this week, will be battered by severe weather again before the final thaw this weekend.
Here’s what’s happening in the South and Northeast:
An ice storm linked to at least three deaths in Texas will bring more freezing rain Thursday morning.
Another quarter-inch of ice could freeze central and northern Texas as well as southern Oklahoma and Arkansas.
Adding insult to injury: More than 400,000 homes, businesses and other power users were without power Thursday morning, according to PowerOutage.us. Most of the outages were in the Austin area.
Another 60,000 customers in Arkansas, 20,000 in Mississippi and 20,000 in Tennessee were also without power in the freezing cold Thursday morning.
But by midday on Thursday, temperatures will rise above freezing across much of the region.
More than 15 million people will be under wind chill warnings starting Friday as sub-zero temperatures and high winds hit the Northeast.
“Northern and eastern Maine has not seen winds of this magnitude since similar outbreaks in 1982 and 1988,” the weather service said.
The alert covers all of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. They also include northern New Jersey, northeastern Pennsylvania, and most of New York State outside of New York City and Long Island.
Severe cold is expected to move into the region on Friday morning, with the coldest temperatures expected Friday night and Saturday morning.
Temperatures will plummet below zero degrees Fahrenheit across New York state and much of New England. In upstate New York and northern New England, temperatures will drop to minus 15 to 25 degrees.
But strong winds can make the air feel even colder — with wind chill temperatures dropping to -35 to -50 degrees in upstate New York and northern New England.
“Avoid any outdoor activity Friday and Saturday!” the New Hampshire Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management posted on Facebook. “The cold temperatures combined with wind chill could lead to potentially life-threatening conditions outdoors.”
New York City can tolerate wind chills as low as minus 10 degrees.
In Boston, where the air temperature felt like minus 27 degrees, the mayor declared a cold emergency Friday through Sunday.
“I urge all Boston residents to take precautions during this cold emergency, stay warm and safe, and check on your neighbors,” Mayor Michelle Wu said.
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont activated the state’s severe cold weather protocol, which begins at noon Thursday and runs through the weekend.
“Due to the upcoming severe cold weather, frostbite may appear on exposed skin within 30 minutes,” the governor warned.
“Extended periods of time outdoors under these conditions are not only harmful, but potentially fatal.”
Lamont said there are shelters and heating centers located throughout Connecticut and can provide transportation if needed.
Heating centers are also expected in Maine, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Vermont, officials said.
However, the pain won’t last long. High temperatures in the region will rise by 20 to 30 degrees from Saturday to Sunday.
In fact, with the exception of northern Maine, much of the Northeast will actually be warmer than normal on Sunday, with highs in the 30s and 40s.