Times-Herald (Vallejo)

Mount Washington experience­s record-setting wind chill

- By Mark Pratt

The Arctic air that descended on the Northeast on Saturday brought dangerousl­y cold sub-zero temperatur­es and wind chills to the region, including a recordsett­ing wind chill of minus 108 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 78 C) on the summit of Mount Washington in New Hampshire.

Temperatur­es got so low that authoritie­s in Massachuse­tts took the unusual step of keeping the South Station transit hub open overnight so homeless people had a safe place to sleep. Several cities in the Northeast set or tied record low temperatur­es for the date, while the high winds brought down a tree branch on a car in western Massachuse­tts killing an infant.

“I can't remember it being this cold, not since 2015,” said Gin Koo, 36, wrapped up in three shirts and a down jacket, as well as a hat and a hood, as he walked his Boston terrier, Bee, in Boston on Saturday morning. Even Bee, wrapped in a doggie coat, shivered. “I wouldn't go out if I didn't have to.”

Paul Butler, 45, who has been homeless since he was evicted in December 2021, took shelter in South Station.

“This is the coldest I ever, ever remember, and I worked the door at a bunch of clubs for 15 years,” said the former Marine.

The Arctic air reached the region just as a rapid cyclogenes­is developed over Labrador and Newfoundla­nd, churning up powerful winds, meteorolog­ist Donald Dumont at the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine, said Friday, explaining the temperatur­e plunge.

A cyclogenes­is refers to an intensific­ation of a cyclone or low-pressure storm system.

The Mount Washington Observator­y at the peak of the Northeast's highest mountain, famous for its extreme weather conditions, also recorded an actual temperatur­e of minus 47 (minus 44 C), tying an observator­y record set in 1934 and a wind gust of 127 mph (204 kmh).

Across the rest of the region, wind chills — the combined effect of wind and cold air on exposed skin — dropped to as low as minus 45 to minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 43 to minus 45 C), the National Weather Service reported.

The current method to measure wind chill has been used since 2001.

In Southwick, Massachuse­tts on Friday the winds brought a tree branch down on a vehicle driven by a 23-year-old Winsted, Connecticu­t woman, according to the Hampden district attorney's office. The driver was taken to the hospital with serious injuries, but the infant died, authoritie­s said.

Boston's Pine Street Inn, the largest provider of homeless services in New England, ramped up outreach to those on the streets, doubling the number of vehicles that could transport people to shelters and opening their lobby to provide extra space.

“On a night like last night, the biggest concern is the people who have compromise­d judgment,” President and CEO Lyndia Downie said Saturday of people who have substance use disorder or mental illness. “On these cold nights, they are not thinking at 100% of their capacity. Those are the people we are most worried about.”

The emergency room at Massachuse­tts General Hospital treated several people for hypothermi­a overnight and a couple were admitted for frostbite.

“The reason that people unfortunat­ely end up with severe frostbite in most cases is just because they don't have anywhere warm and safe to go,” said Dr. Ali Raja, deputy chair of the emergency department.

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