As ice storm continues in the South, the Northeast braces for dangerously frigid temperatures
As tens of thousands remain without power in cold temperatures and icy roads in Texas on Thursday, the Northeast braces for a blast of bitterly cold air that could feel well below freezing.
Texas has borne the brunt of a dangerous ice storm that caused multiple rounds of sleet and freezing rain and created life-threatening road conditions in surrounding states, including Oklahoma, Arkansas and the Memphis area of Tennessee.
On Wednesday, Texas reported that a third person died during the storm after losing control of their truck on an icy road north of Eldorado. One person was killed in a 10-car pileup in Austin, and another person died after their car overturned in the Dallas-area city of Arlington, officials said.
And while Thursday is expected to bring some relief from the deadly storm as temperatures slowly rise, the accumulation of multiple layers of ice and sleet has broken branches and limbs, causing power outages for more than 360,000 homes and businesses in Texas. That means thousands of people are unlikely to have adequate heating or hot water as ice covers the ground.
Overnight into early Thursday, an additional quarter inch of ice could potentially glaze already slippery roads, particularly in central and north Texas, southern Oklahoma and Arkansas.
“This will bring total ice accumulations from storms to over 0.5″ in many locations, increasing the risk of significant tree damage and power outages on top of freezing, dangerous roads. Sleet can also sometimes mix with the freezing rain, increasing the likelihood of ice forming on roads,” the National Weather Service said.
Late Thursday night, the Northeast could feel sub-zero temperatures from a separate winter storm, prompting officials in several states to announce preparations.
In Connecticut, the governor activated the state’s strict cold-weather protocol beginning Thursday noon through the weekend.
“In the kind of severe cold we’re facing, frostbite on exposed skin can develop in less than 30 minutes. Being outdoors for long periods of time in these conditions is not only harmful, it can be deadly,” Governor Ned Lamont said.
The governor added that shelters and warm-up centers are available throughout Connecticut and transportation can be provided if needed.
Similarly, heat centers are said to be available in Maine, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Vermont, officials said.
In Boston, the mayor declared a cold state of emergency in the city ahead of extremely cold weather Friday through Sunday.
“I urge all Boston residents to take precautions, stay warm, stay safe, and check on your neighbors during this cold emergency,” Mayor Michelle Wu said.
More than 15 million people in the Northeast are expected to be under a wind chill vigil or alert from either Thursday evening or Friday morning until at least Saturday afternoon.
The National Weather Service issues a wind chill warning when the air is expected to feel -25 degrees Fahrenheit or colder.
The upcoming wind chill alerts would apply to all of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, northern Connecticut, much of eastern and central New York, and northeastern Pennsylvania.
“The mass of air descending on the area Friday through Friday night is the coldest air currently in the northern hemisphere,” the National Weather Service in Caribou, Maine, warned.
Cold air is on its way to move northeast Thursday night and Friday, with the coldest period ahead Friday evening and Saturday morning, like temperatures fall below zero.
In northern New England, temperatures will drop to 15 to 25 degrees below zero. Also, the frigid temperatures will be accompanied by wind speeds of 25 to 40 miles per hour, making the air feel as low as -10 degrees Fahrenheit in areas as far north as New York City.
“Avoid any outdoor activities on Friday and Saturday! Cold temperatures coupled with the wind chill factor could create potentially life-threatening conditions outdoors,” New Hampshire’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management said in a post on Facebook Wednesday afternoon.
Meanwhile, northern New York and northern New England will feel like -35 to -50 degrees Fahrenheit, with wind chills as high as 65 degrees below zero in some locations. These extreme conditions can cause frostbite in as little as five minutes.
The cold spell is expected to be brief, with temperatures expected to rise across most of the region through Sunday afternoon.