As ice storm continues in the South, parts of the Northeast brace for brutal wind chills not felt in decades


As hundreds of thousands remain without power in Texas on Thursday amid frigid temperatures and icy roads, the Northeast is bracing for a blast of bitterly freezing air that forecasters say could be the coldest felt in decades.

Texas has been bearing the brunt of a dangerous ice storm that dumped several rounds of sleet and freezing rain, causing life-threatening road conditions in surrounding states including Oklahoma, Arkansas and the Memphis area in Tennessee.

On Wednesday, Texas reported a third person had died during the storm after losing control of her truck on an icy road north of Eldorado. One person was killed in Austin in a 10-car pileup, and another person died after their car rolled over in the Dallas-area city of Arlington, officials said.

And while Thursday is expected to bring some relief from the deadly storm as temperatures slowly rise, the piling of multiple layers of ice and sleet has snapped tree branches and limbs and led to power outages for nearly 400,000 homes and businesses in Texas as of Thursday morning, according to That means thousands of people likely don’t have proper heating or hot water as ice coats the ground.

Vehicles stuck on an exit ramp of US 75 in Dallas, Texas, on Wednesday.

Overnight into early Thursday, an additional quarter inch of ice could possibly glaze already slippery roads, particularly in central and northern Texas, southern Oklahoma and Arkansas.

“This will bring storm total ice accretions to over 0.5” for many locations which will raise the risk for significant tree damage and power outages, in addition to icy, dangerous roads. Sleet may also mix in at times with the freezing rain which will increase the chances for icing on the roadways,” the National Weather Service said.

As Texas and the Mid-South await warmer temperatures, a separate winter storm brewing in the Northeast has forecasters raising alarms about wind chills well below zero degrees Fahrenheit on Friday and Saturday.

“This is an epic, generational Arctic outbreak,” said the National Weather Service in Caribou, Maine. “The air mass descending on the area Friday into Friday night is the coldest air currently in the Northern Hemisphere.”

By late Thursday night, the Northeast could begin feeling temperatures below zero, prompting officials in several states to announce preparations.

In Connecticut, the governor activated the state’s severe cold weather protocol beginning noon Thursday through the weekend.

“With the kind of severe cold weather that is headed our way, frostbite can develop on exposed skin in under 30 minutes. Spending long periods of time outdoors in these conditions is not only harmful, it can be fatal,” Gov. Ned Lamont said.

The governor added that shelters and warming centers are available across Connecticut, and transportation can be provided when needed.

Similarly, warming centers are expected to be available in Maine, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Vermont, officials said.

In Boston, the mayor declared a cold emergency in the city for Friday through Sunday ahead of the severely cold weather.

“I urge all Boston residents to take precautions, stay warm and safe, and check on your neighbors during this cold emergency,” Mayor Michelle Wu said.

More than 15 million people are expected to be under a wind chill watch or warning in the Northeast beginning either Thursday night or Friday morning through at least Saturday afternoon.

The National Weather Service issues a wind chill warning when the air is expected to feel -25 degrees Fahrenheit or colder.

The impending wind chill alerts would apply to all of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, northern Connecticut, much of eastern and central New York and northeast Pennsylvania.

The northern portion of New England will see temperatures drop to 15 to 25 degrees below zero heading into the weekend. Plus, the frigid temperatures will be joined by winds of 25 to 40 mph, making air in areas as far south as New York City feel -10 degrees Fahrenheit.

“Avoid any outdoor activities on Friday and Saturday! Cold temperatures paired with the wind chill factor could lead to potentially life-threatening conditions outdoors,” the New Hampshire Homeland Security and Emergency Management said in a post on Facebook Wednesday afternoon.

Meanwhile, parts of northern New York and northern New England will feel like -35 to -50 degrees Fahrenheit with some locations experiencing wind chills as cold as 65 degrees below zero. These extreme conditions can cause frostbite in as little as five minutes.

“Wind chills into the minus 50s for northern parts of this region (New England) could be the coldest felt in decades,” the Weather Prediction Center said.

The cold blast is expected to be brief, with temperatures rising across most of the region by Sunday afternoon.

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