The coldest wind chills in decades will thrash New England as 8 deaths are now linked to an ice storm in the South
By Holly Yan, Monica Garrett, Aya Elamroussi, Mallika Kallingal and Joe Sutton, CNN
Dangerous wind chills as cold as 50 degrees Fahrenheit below zero are set to blast the Northeast as the number of deaths linked to an ice storm in the South rose to eight.
The mind-numbing wind chills set to wallop New England “could be the coldest felt in decades,” the Weather Prediction Center said.
More than 15 million people are under wind chill warnings or advisories in the Northeast. The alerts begin to go into effect early Friday morning and last through Saturday afternoon.
“This is an epic, generational Arctic outbreak,” said the National Weather Service in Caribou, Maine. “The air mass descending on the area Friday into Friday night is the coldest air currently in the Northern Hemisphere.”
Such extreme conditions can cause frostbite in as little as 10 minutes.
Fortunately, the brutal blast will only last about 36 hours. Temperatures across most of the Northeast are expected to rise by Sunday afternoon.
But farther south, cities paralyzed by a deadly ice storm this week got a final encore of nasty weather before a weekend warmup.
Here’s what’s happening in the South and Northeast:
8 deaths and 400,000 power outages in the South
The deadly ice storm that crippled parts of the South this week dumped more freezing rain Thursday.
About a quarter inch of fresh ice glazed parts of central and northern Texas, including the weather service’s Fort Worth office.
“We have about 0.20 inches of accumulated ice on branches here at the office,” the service in Fort Worth tweeted Thursday. “It’s an ice rink on these side roads and on our parking lot.”
At least eight deaths in two states have been linked to the storm this week, officials said:
• In Custer County, Oklahoma, a 35-year-old driver was killed Thursday morning on Interstate 40 when his semi-truck slid on ice and overturned, Oklahoma Highway Patrol said.
• In Payne County, Oklahoma, a 45-year-old man was killed when he lost control of his Ford F-150 pickup truck on an icy road Thursday morning, the highway patrol said.
• Three people were killed near Brownfield, Texas, after the 46-year-old driver of a Dodge Ram pickup truck lost control Wednesday morning on an icy part of US Highway 380 and rolled into a ditch. The driver and two of his passengers were killed, the Texas Department of Public Safety said.
• A 49-year-old driver died this week when she lost control of her truck on an icy road north of Eldorado, the Texas Department of Public Safety told CNN on Wednesday.
• In south Austin, a 10-car piled up killed one person Tuesday morning, the city’s fire department said.
• In Arlington, Texas, one person was killed after their vehicle rolled over, police said.
On top of the treacherous road conditions, more than 400,000 homes, businesses and other power customers had no electricity Thursday morning, according to PowerOutage.us. Most of the outages were in the Austin area.
More than 60,000 customers in Arkansas, 17,000 in Mississippi and 9,000 in Tennessee also had no power in the brutal cold on Thursday.
But by Thursday afternoon, temperatures finally crept above freezing in parts of Texas that were covered in ice, the National Weather Service said.
“Most locations have reached above freezing with highs today ranging from the upper 30s in the north to the mid 50s further south,” the NWS’ Austin/San Antonio office tweeted.
The Texas A&M Forest Service warned residents to beware of melting ice.
“As trees across the state continue to be weighed down by ice and snow, keep in mind: Safety first,” the forest service tweeted. “Wait until all ice melts to assess your trees and homes. Though ice is starting to melt, it can fall off in chunks and become dangerous.”
Boston could feel like it’s 27 degrees below zero
More than 15 million people will be under wind chill alerts starting Friday as sub-zero temperatures and ferocious winds target the Northeast.
“The wind chills are something northern and eastern Maine has not seen since similar outbreaks in 1982 and 1988,” the weather service said.
The alerts cover all of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. They also include northern New Jersey, northeast Pennsylvania and much of New York state outside of New York City and Long Island.
The bitter cold is expected to move into the region Friday morning, and the coldest temperatures are expected Friday night and Saturday morning.
Temperatures will plummet below zero degrees in much of New York state and New England. In northern New York and northern New England, temperatures will dip to 15 to 25 degrees below zero.
But vicious winds will make the air feel even colder — with wind chills plunging to minus 35 to minus 50 degrees in northern New York state and northern New England.
“Avoid any outdoor activities on Friday and Saturday!” the New Hampshire Homeland Security and Emergency Management posted on Facebook. “Cold temperatures paired with the wind chill factor could lead to potentially life-threatening conditions outdoors.”
New York City could endure wind chills as low as 10 degrees below zero.
“New Yorkers across the state will experience dangerously cold temperatures and life-threatening wind chills this weekend,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a statement Thursday.
“Now is the time to prepare: plan to limit your time outdoors this weekend and know where to take shelter. Take all necessary precautions to ensure your residence is safely heated and use caution if you plan to use an alternative heat source, such as a space heater.”
And in Boston, where the air will feel like it’s 27 degrees below zero, the mayor declared a cold emergency for Friday through Sunday.
“I urge all Boston residents to take precautions, stay warm and safe, and check on your neighbors during this cold emergency,” Mayor Michelle Wu said.
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation will operate trains and buses near regular schedules, but is warning riders of delays. They say flights delays at both Logan and Worcester Regional Airport are possible with the frigid temperature expected this weekend.
Massachusetts’ governor says local leaders are organizing shelter for those who want it. “We encourage anyone who needs a place to stay to accept this offer and spend the night at a safe, warm shelter rather than at the station,” Maura Healey said.
Boston, Springfield, and Worcester public school districts have announced plans to close Friday.
“With extreme weather conditions and many of our students commuting to and from school, walking and waiting for public transportation outdoors, we have made the decision to close for the day,” Boston Public Schools Superintendent Mary Skipper said in a statement on the school district’s website.
The statement also encouraged families in need to take advantage of warming centers on Friday and Saturday.
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont warned how quickly such conditions can dangerous or deadly.
“With the kind of severe cold weather that is headed our way, frostbite can develop on exposed skin in under 30 minutes,” Lamont said.
“Spending long periods of time outdoors in these conditions is not only harmful, it can be fatal.”
Shelters and warming centers are available across Connecticut, and transportation can be provided when needed, said Lamont.
Warming centers are also expected to be available in Maine, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Vermont, officials said.
The agony won’t last long, though. High temperatures across the region will rise 20 to 30 degrees between Saturday and Sunday.
In fact, most of the Northeast — except northern Maine — will actually be above normal Sunday, with high temperatures reaching the 30s and 40s.
Other states are also warning their residents to stay safe ahead of the extremely cold weather forecast. New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu is urging residents to prepare for the “life-threatening cold temperatures.”
“This is going to be a cold weather crisis from Seabrook to Colebrook, right. So let’s understand no one’s going to be immune I think to what’s coming down,” he added.
New Hampshire, Vermont and Providence, Rhode Island, have announced school closures on Friday.
And Maine Governor Janet Mills said in a news released, “Maine is forecast to experience a level of extreme cold temperatures that only occurs about once every decade.”
And zoos in Utica, New York, and Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, will close and plan to keep the majority of their animals indoors on Friday and Saturday due to the extremely cold temperatures.
Officials are urging residents to prepare for the extreme weather and check in on on neighbors and friends during this cold snap.
Canada is also getting it’s fair share of the cold blast. The entire provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba are all under “Extreme Cold” warnings, according to Environment Canada.
Toronto is expecting wind chill of 22 degrees below zero, according to an alert from Environment Canada. And areas in Quebec could see wind chills drop to between 36 to 67 degrees below zero.
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CNN’s Chris Boyette, Sara Smart and Taylor Ward contributed to this report.