A new wave of frigid weather that forecasters warned could be the coldest in decades began rolling into the Northeast Friday morning, leading some communities to close schools and open warming centers. Wind chills in some higher elevations could punch below minus 50 (minus 45 Celsius).
“The worst part of the upcoming cold snap is going to be the wind,” which has already topped 80 mph (129 kph) in higher elevations, said National Weather Service lead forecaster Bob Oravec. Frigid wind chills — the combined effect of wind and cold air on exposed skin — are expected Saturday.
The worst wind chills in the populated areas of the Northeast shouldn’t go lower than minus 40 (minus 40 Celsius), he said.
Wind gusts began cutting power Friday to some homes in New England, and many communities opened warming shelters, including in Maine and Connecticut.
Some ski areas in the two states scaled back operations, eliminating night skiing or reducing lift operations. In Maine, a popular weekend pond hockey tournament was postponed, and the National Toboggan Championship pushed Saturday’s races back by a day.
Schools closed Friday in Boston and in Manchester, New Hampshire’s largest city. “In these conditions, frostbite can develop in as little as 30 minutes,” an announcement on the Manchester district’s website read. “This is simply too cold for students who walk home.”
Some of the most extreme weather was expected atop New Hampshire’s Mount Washington, the Northeast’s highest peak and home to a weather observatory, where winds gusted to nearly 100 mph (160 kph) and wind chills could reach minus 100 (minus 73 Celsius).
The system is expected to move out of the region Sunday.