Montreal on Saturday: Arctic winds cause extreme temperatures
Photo: Graham Hughes/AP
In the east of the USA and Canada, polar air currents with strong gusts of wind have caused extreme frost.
According to the US weather agency NWS, there was even a record in the USA with the lowest temperature ever measured in the USA: At the summit of Mount Washington in the north-eastern US state of New Hampshire, the so-called wind chill temperature, which was influenced by the wind, fell at night to minus 78 degrees Celsius on Saturday.
Wind chill temperature is a measure of how the combination of air and wind feels on the skin.
According to the US broadcaster CNN, the value determined on Mount Washington was below the previous low of minus 76 degrees Celsius, which was measured in Alaska.
It was caused by the combination of an air temperature of minus 43 degrees and gusts of wind with a speed of up to 177 km/h.
At 1920 meters, Mount Washington is the highest peak in the Northeastern United States and the mountain is notorious for its extreme weather conditions.
The NWS field office in Caribou, further north in the state of Maine, reported a wind chill temperature of minus 51 degrees for the town of Frenchville, which is on the border with Canada.
According to the NWS, such temperatures can lead to frostbite on unprotected skin within five minutes.
In addition, so-called frost quakes were reported from the region.
According to the NWS, these tremors on the earth's surface are caused by sudden cracks in frozen ground or frozen water in the bedrock.
Trees also broke open, probably due to the frozen sap inside the trunks.
Before the cold snap, the US weather agency had warned of arctic cold that “only occurs once in a generation”.
The state of Maine has not experienced a similar frost since the 1980s.
However, temperatures were also as much as 15 degrees below seasonal averages across much of the U.S. Northwest and the Atlantic Seaboard, according to the NWS.
There were weather warnings due to the extremely low temperatures, as well as in the Canadian province of Québec and other parts of eastern Canada.
Protecting the homeless from the cold
A wind chill temperature of minus 41 degrees was measured at the airport in Montréal, and minus 34 degrees in Boston.
In the New England city, where public schools were closed on Friday due to the threat of frost, the minimum temperature was minus 23 degrees Celsius.
She broke the daily record set more than a century ago, according to the NWS.
In New York City, a wind chill of minus 16 degrees was measured in Central Park.
Several cities took action to help residents.
Among other things, they set up warming centers and made sure that the homeless were protected from the cold.
In Boston, the Pine Street Inn, New England's largest provider of homeless services, doubled the number of vans that searched the city's streets Friday and Saturday, spokeswoman Barbara Trevisan said.
"We started warning people earlier in the week that the weather was going to be very extreme," she said.
"The goal last night was to keep people alive and safe."
Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey ordered the station to remain open overnight as an emergency shelter.
Trevisan estimates that around 50 to 60 homeless people stayed there.
In Southwick, Massachusetts, a tree fell on a car due to strong winds.
An infant died in the incident, according to the Hampden District Attorney.
Many ski areas restricted their operations due to the temperatures.
Jay Peak, a ski resort in northern Vermont near the Canadian border, shut down operations entirely on Friday and Saturday, citing the danger to employees and skiers.
The cold weather will probably be short-lived.
Temperatures are expected to be significantly higher on Sunday due to warmer air masses.
The maximum temperature in Boston will be 8.3 degrees Celsius on Sunday, according to the NWS.