Much of the northeastern United States and Canada bundled up for what the US National Weather Service called a “generational arctic outbreak.” Wind-chill temperatures dropped as low as minus 51 degrees Celsius.
A powerful arctic blast swept into the northeastern region of the US and Canada on Friday. Some areas are set to record their lowest-ever wind chill temperatures.
“This is an epic, generational arctic outbreak,” the US National Weather Service (NWS) office in the Caribou region of the northeastern US state of Maine wrote in an advisory.
It also added that while the deep freeze might be relatively short, it could pose life-threatening conditions.
The NWS warned that parts of the northeastern United States might see temperatures as low as minus 60 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 51 degrees Celsius).
Wind chill warnings were announced for most of New York state and all six New England states — a region home to some 16 million people.
Hazardous conditions caused by the wind chills
The NWS warned that frostbite can damage exposed skin within five minutes in such conditions.
The weather service also said the northern and eastern regions of Maine have not seen chills like this since similar outbreaks in 1982 and 1988. The NWS tweeted a warning of “dangerously cold wind chills.”
“The dangers of being caught unprepared without shelter from the elements and without proper winter survival gear cannot be stressed enough,” the service wrote.
Schools in New England’s two largest cities of Boston and Worcester closed on Friday over concerns children could suffer from hypothermia and frostbite on the way to school.
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu declared a state of emergency and opened warming centers for residents.
New York City predicted temperatures to touch minus 23 degrees Celsius, according to NWS.
The most extreme conditions were forecasted to occur from Friday night into Saturday morning. Weather warnings were in effect across Quebec and much of eastern Canada.
In Ottawa, Canada’s capital, snowfall and wind reduced visibility to near zero, while in Montreal, the wind made the temperature feel like minus 41 degrees Celsius on Friday. Temperatures were predicted to drop as low as minus 50 degrees Celsius in the northern regions of Quebec because of the strong, cold gusts.
Arctic sea smoke rose over some parts of the St.Lawrence River due to frigid winds passing over the unfrozen water.
The Hydro-Quebec power company said it was preparing for a historic electricity consumption overnight from Friday to Saturday and called on users to reduce their use.
Warmer weather is due to move across the region on Sunday.
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