BOSTON – Frigid temperatures, some that could feel as cold as -34C, moved across the East Coast on Friday as the region attempted to clean up from a massive winter storm that brought more than a foot of snow, hurricane-force winds and coastal flooding a day earlier.
Forecasters predict strong winds and record-breaking cold air will sweep the region, from the mid-Atlantic to New England, and hang around through the weekend.
“This is chilly, chilly stuff,” Brian Hurley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland, said.
The arctic blast could make temperatures feel as low as minus 15 degrees to minus 25 from Philadelphia to Boston and make residents of states like Maryland and Virginia shiver from temperatures ranging from 10 degrees to 15 degrees.
The wind chill could make it feel like minus 35 degrees in the Berkshire hills of western Massachusetts, the National Weather Service said.
The storm began days ago in the Gulf of Mexico and first struck the Florida Panhandle. By Thursday, it was wreaking havoc as blizzard warnings and states of emergency went into effect along the Eastern Seaboard. Wind gusts hit more than 113 kph in places and some areas saw as much as 46 centimetres of snow.
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The storm caused school and business closings, airline and rail service cancellations or reductions and thousands of utilities outages, many of them restored quickly. Some ferry services even had to be shut down along the Canadian coast.
In New Jersey, gusty winds carried flames from a vacant building across the street to two other buildings. The flames also spread to two structures adjacent to the vacant building, damaging a total of five Friday morning in Newark. Two firefighters received minor injuries.
In the South, the winter weather forced portable toilets to be put in place outside Mississippi’s Capitol after pipes burst and it caused iguanas to become sluggish and topple from trees in South Florida. Residents of southeast Georgia were treated to a rare 15 centimetres.
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In New England, powerful winds brought coastal flooding that reached historic levels in some communities with icy water overflowing piers, streets and restaurants and stranding some people who had to be rescued.
The only place where blizzard conditions were reported during Thursday’s storm, however, was Block Island, Rhode Island.
At least seven people died in weather-related accidents.
Four people were killed in North Carolina and South Carolina after their vehicles ran off snow-covered roads, authorities said. Another fatality was reported near Philadelphia when a car could not stop at the bottom of a steep, snow-covered hill and slammed into a commuter train. A passenger in the vehicle was killed. No one on the train was hurt.
In Virginia, a girl was struck by a pickup truck while sledding, and a 75-year-old man was hit by a snow plow while clearing business parking lots, authorities said. Both died at hospitals from their injuries, police said.
In northern New England, temperatures will be below zero this weekend. The high in Burlington, Vermont, on Saturday may only be minus 5 degrees, the meteorologist said.
The South won’t be spared, either. Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia can expect temperatures around 15 degrees to 20 degrees, Hurley said. Northern Florida will be in the 20s to low 30s.
Sunday morning should bring the coldest temperatures from Portland, Maine, to Washington, D.C. “That’s when you’ll see records being challenged or broken, with temperatures at or near zero in many places,” Hurley said.
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