Dan­ger­ous wind chills put US in deep freeze

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

CONCORD, NH:

Low tem­per­a­tures and high winds have put the North­east­ern US in a deep freeze. Dan­ger­ous wind chills of 20 to 30 below in parts of the re­gion made for some crip­pling con­di­tions yesterday.

“You are talk­ing about 30 de­grees below nor­mal highs. That is pretty darn cold,” said National Weather Ser­vice me­te­o­rol­o­gist James Brown in Maine. “This is pretty much a piece of Arc­tic air that came off the North Pole and came into New Eng­land.”

Fore­cast­ers said a storm will fol­low the frigid weather, bring­ing chances for snow, sleet and freez­ing rain across much of the coun­try.

Some schools closed early Thurs­day and many oth­ers de­layed open­ing Fri­day to avoid a bone-chill­ing wait at the bus stop. “We’re not strangers to these sorts of bit­ter tem­per­a­tures on Mount Wash­ing­ton’s sum­mit,” se­nior weather ob­server Mike Car­mon said in the weather ob­ser­va­tory’s blog at the high­est peak in the North­east. “How­ever, over the last few win­ters, it’s gen­er­ally late Jan­uary or Fe­bru­ary be­fore we ex­pe­ri­ence this sort of po­lar air out­break.”

The wind chill was down to 85-below at the sum­mit early yesterday. Util­ity work­ers were pre­pared for power out­ages due to fallen trees. David Flener, field safety man­ager at Ever­source, New Hamp­shire’s largest util­ity, said work­ers are well-ed­u­cated on how to stay warm in the cold­est weather, start­ing be­fore they even ar­rive on a job site. They are urged to make sure they carry an emer­gency kit with cloth­ing and food in case they get stranded, and once they ar­rive, there is a dis­cus­sion about on-the-job safety.

“We’re of­ten­times up in buck­ets, so you’re some­times above the trees and there’s a lit­tle more wind up there,” he said. “You’d be sur­prised how much heat you lose from the top of your head.” Sara Sankowich, who over­sees tree crews for Uni­til, said work­ers are en­cour­aged to watch out for one an­other to see if they show signs of hy­pother­mia or frost­bite. “We’ll take ev­ery step to make sure they are stay­ing safe out there and that they’re not over­ex­pos­ing them­selves to the el­e­ments,” she said.

In up­state New York, along the Lake On­tario shore, wind gusts ap­proached 70 mph and the National Weather Ser­vice is­sued a bl­iz­zard warn­ing ef­fec­tive through early Fri­day morn­ing. Lake-ef­fect snow was ac­com­pa­nied by winds of up to 50 mph, caus­ing white­out con­di­tions in some places.

Else­where in New York, parts of the Adiron­dack North­way, north of Albany, were closed for more than four hours af­ter a crash in­volv­ing a trac­tor-trailer and a snow­plow. No in­juries were re­ported. In west­ern Penn­syl­va­nia, lake-ef­fect snow bands were blamed for slick roads and poor vis­i­bil­ity. Fifty-nine ve­hi­cles crashed in a snowy pileup and three peo­ple were hurt. The crash was one of three that shut down dif­fer­ent stretches of In­ter­state 80.

Below-nor­mal tem­per­a­tures are ex­pected this week­end and into Mon­day across the en­tire north­ern half of the coun­try, from the Pa­cific North­west to Maine and as far south as Ok­la­homa, Arkansas and Vir­ginia, ac­cord­ing to the Cli­mate Pre­dic­tion Cen­ter. In Ok­la­homa, au­thor­i­ties said three peo­ple died in sep­a­rate wrecks and more than 100 traf­fic crashes were re­ported af­ter freez­ing driz­zle slick­ened roads in the Ok­la­homa City area.

The Ok­la­homa High­way Pa­trol re­ported the fa­tal crashes on three in­ter­states in the metro area Thurs­day night. The Ok­la­homa City Fire De­part­ment says its crews re­sponded to mul­ti­ple wrecks, in­clud­ing an eight-ve­hi­cle pileup that shut down traf­fic. — AP

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