Arctic blast kills child in US
People across the northeastern US confronted the coldest temperatures seen in decades on Saturday, as an Arctic air mass passed over the region, accompanied by powerful winds that drove wind chills to dangerous levels.
Frigid conditions demolished records set more than a century ago in Boston and Providence, where lows hit minus 23 and minus 22 degrees Celsius early Saturday, the National Weather Service reported. Temperatures plunged to minus 15 degrees in New York City, minus 21 in Hartford, Connecticut, and minus 26 in Concord, New Hampshire, with the wind making it feel much colder everywhere.
At least one death was attributed to the weather system. In western Massachusetts on Friday, a tree fell and crushed a vehicle in Southwick, west of Springfield, and killed an infant passenger. The 23-year-old driver, the victim’s aunt, suffered serious injuries, according to a statement from the office of the district attorney in Hampden County.
At the summit of Mount Washington in New Hampshire, the region’s highest peak, the low of minus 43 degrees at 4am on Saturday tied the previous record set in 1934. Wind chills approached minus 78 degrees, and were likely among the coldest ever recorded.
Venturing outside onto the mountain to track the system on Friday, Francis Tarasiewicz, a staff meteorologist at the Mount Washington Observatory, encountered wind that sounded like a roaring freight train. “There were pieces of ice flying around, lots of ducking and dodging,” he said. “I had a tiny, millimetre-wide area of skin exposure, and it felt like a bee sting.”
Conditions moderated by late Saturday, and the deep cold was expected to subside by Sunday. In the meantime, government officials opened warming shelters, issued warnings about frostbite and hypothermia, and urged people to stay inside. On Saturday morning, 18,000 customers in Maine and New York State were without electricity, according to the website poweroutage.us; by afternoon, power had been restored to all but 5,000.
“This is one of the coldest events that we’ve seen in years,” said Miro Weinberger, the mayor of Burlington, Vermont. “We’re encouraging people to stay indoors.”
Mayor Michelle Wu of Boston declared a cold emergency on Sunday, while in New York, a Code Blue was in effect, meaning that no one seeking shelter would be denied.
New York Times News Service