Incoming Deep Freeze Could Leave U.S. Northeast Its Coldest in Decades

Parts of New England could see wind chills down to -50 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Frozen power lines are seen hanging near a sidewalk on February 01, 2023 in Austin, Texas. The freeze is moving on to northeastern states.
Frozen power lines are seen hanging near a sidewalk on February 01, 2023 in Austin, Texas. The freeze is moving on to northeastern states.
Photo: Brandon Bell (Getty Images)

The winter weather that left hundreds of thousands in Texas without power is moving north, and is set to bring wind chills as low as -50 degrees Fahrenheit (-45 Celsius) into New England.

The cold front will bring temperatures to between 15 and 35 degrees below average across a large section of the U.S. that includes the Ohio Valley, the Great Lakes, the Upper Mississippi Vally, and the Northeast, National Weather Service said in a Friday alert. States from the Dakotas to New England are under wind chill warnings and advisories.

New York City is expected to see temperatures around 10 degrees Fahrenheit (-12 degrees Celsius) Friday night into Saturday morning, according to the National Weather Service. Governor Kathy Hochul issued a weather warning on Thursday and urged residents to avoid spending time outdoors. Boston and some surrounding cities, including Lawrence and Cambridge, are expected to see wind chills as low as -35 degrees Fahrenheit (-37 degrees Celsius) this weekend. Boston Mayor Michelle Wu declared a cold emergency for the city from today until Sunday, and the city closed schools Friday and opened warming shelters, Reuters reported.

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“Wind chill values will be lowest Friday night and Saturday morning and may be the coldest or colder since a similar event in February of 2016,” forecasters from the Portland, Maine NWS office said earlier today. “If wind chills fall to -40 or -50F this will be the first time in 20 or 30 years for many locations.”

Burlington, Vermont can expect wind chills of -30 degrees Fahrenheit (-34 degrees Celsius) to -45 degrees Fahrenheit (-42 degrees Celsius), according to a local National Weather Service alert. Parts of the eastern Adirondack mountains along the border of New York and Vermont might experience wind chills as low as -55 degrees Fahrenheit (-48 degrees Celsius).

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The wind chill measurement is crucial. It’s used to describe what the air temperature actually feels like when wind is blowing on exposed skin. If it’s both cold and windy outside, our bodies lose more heat, and health concerns like frostbite occur more quickly. Anyone who is going to venture outside in the affected regions this weekend should wear multiple layers of clothing.

The cold front reached Texas and surrounding states earlier this week, bringing sleet and freezing rain that caused traffic accidents and flight cancellations. Ice damaged power lines throughout the state, and on Thursday afternoon, more than 400,000 customers in Texas were without power. More than 230,000 customers across Central Texas are still without power Friday, according to PowerOutage.us.

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Temperatures in the Northeast should return to normal by early next week. New York City and the surrounding metropolitan area will see temperatures rise to more than 40 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of this weekend, a National Weather Service meteorologist told Gothamist.