A record-setting cold chilled most of the Northeastern States of the United States on Valentine’s Day and set records in Boston, Hartford and Providence. The life threatening temperatures dropped as low as -9 degree Fahrenheit (-22.8 Celsius) with a windchill of -40 degrees Fahrenheit. The National Weather Service reported that the record-setting cold on Valentine’s Day smashed the previous record in Boston for Valentine’s Day of -3 Fahrenheit in 1934. Temperatures reached -16 in Massachusetts, breaking the 1979 record, -9 in Providence and -12 in Hartford breaking records from 1979. “It’s fair to say that this is a historic Arctic outbreak for the modern era,” the National Weather Service said.
Weather forecasters across the States warned of frostbite and urged residents to stay indoors after checking on elderly neighbors and those most vulnerable to the cold including infants, homeless people and people with medical conditions. The police braved the record-setting cold and took to the streets to encourage homeless people to seek cover in shelters where cots and mats had been provided as a respite from the cold.
Despite the best efforts of the police to move people inside, some homeless people chose to brave the cold across the States. Kevin Taylor, a 49-year-old from Massachusetts living on the streets, said he had coped with the cold on his own up until now and would not leave his Harvard Square location just outside of Boston. “I got a sleeping bag sized tent that protects me from wind and snow. I got a zero degree sleeping bag and fleece blankets…I was born and raised in New England. I’m used to this. It’ll start breaking tomorrow,” he said.
Across New York, officials also took to the streets, aiding people in need of shelter. According to SBS City Department of Homeless Services, officials brought 62 people into shelters with a further 207 people escaping the record-setting cold in hospitals.
Temperatures did break slightly on Monday and rose to still freezing temperature of 25 degrees, temperatures will continue to climb throughout the week.
All residents across the States most effected by the record-setting cold were encouraged not to leave their homes unless they absolutely must and were reminded that frostbite can effect exposed skin in as little at 10 minutes. Some chose to ignore the dire warning and embraced the extreme temperatures. More than 2,000 locals took part in the Sea Isle, New Jersey, annual “Polar Bear Plunge” dipping into the freezing Atlantic water to raise money for the city.
New Yorkers also felt the record-setting cold and were urged not to travel over the long weekend by Governor Andrew Cuomo.
“With bitterly cold temperatures expected to continue through the long weekend, New Yorkers should remain alert and avoid all unnecessary travel.”
Several events were cancelled around the country due to the record-setting cold including The Central Park Ice Festival, which was to feature ice-carving artists and music, and several horse racing events including those at Hollywood Casino, Charles Town Races in West Virginia, and at New York’s Aqueduct Racetrack.
In Pennsylvania, the record-setting cold snap caused a car crash that killed at least three people with multiple other injuries recorded across the Northeastern States. Disaster also struck Montpelier, Vermont, were temperatures were so low that utilities were knocked out. A frozen regulator left about 400 customers in Connecticut without natural gas services and officials believe extreme cold in Vermont broke a utility pole, knocking out service to about 1,500 according to Fox News.
The record-setting cold snap is over, but residents of the East Coast have been told to prepare for snow, sleet and rain. According to Meteorologist Bruce Sullivan, there could be significant snowfall “anywhere from 4 to 8 inches” in eastern Ohio, western Pennsylvania and western New York. Some mountainous areas, like those in North Carolina, are predicted to receive an even greater snow fall. As temperatures continue to rise throughout the week, Northeastern States have been warned to brace for flooding as the snow and sleet melts.
[Photo by The Washington Post/Getty Images]