A powerful arctic blast has hit the northeastern US, Canada, bringing dangerously cold temperatures.
A “generational” arctic blast brought dangerously cold temperatures to parts of the northeastern states and Canada on Saturday, with forecasters warning that a freeze could set in in as little as five minutes.
Atop Mount Washington in New Hampshire state, the wind chill reached -78 degrees Celsius (-108 degrees Fahrenheit) overnight, the National Weather Service (NWS) said.
That surpassed the previous record low of -74C (-101F), the Weather Channel said.
At nearly 1,920 meters (6,299 ft), Mount Washington is the highest peak in the northeastern United States and is known for some of the worst weather in the world.
Temperatures of -43C (-45 F) and wind gusts of more than 177 km/h (109 mph) combined for a record low.
The NWS office in Caribou, Maine, said a wind chill of -51C (-29F) was recorded in the small town of Frenchville, just south of the Canadian border.
“This is an epic arctic epidemic for a generation,” the office warned in an advisory before the start.
It says the chill will be “something northern and eastern Maine hasn’t seen since similar outbreaks in 1982 and 1988.”
“Forecasts are that most stations will see the lowest wind chills in decades or, in some cases, the lowest on record,” the service added.
He warns that frostbite on exposed skin can occur within five minutes in such conditions.
“The dangers of being caught off guard without shelter from the elements and without proper winter survival gear cannot be emphasized enough,” the service wrote.
Severe weather warnings covering several million people were in effect across much of New England, Quebec and eastern Canada.
A wind chill of -41C (-41F) was measured at Montreal International Airport.
Energy company Hydro Quebec said the polar blast caused record high power consumption late Friday and urged customers to turn down their heating by a degree or two.
In New York, a “code blue” ordinance was in effect, which meant that no homeless shelter could turn anyone in.
In New York’s Central Park, the mercury dropped to -16C (3F), the NWS said.
Wind chill temperatures dropped below -34C (-29F) in Boston, where public schools were closed on Friday as a precaution.
Warmer air is expected to move into the region late Sunday.