Temperatures across the Northeast plummeted and wind speeds crept upward on Friday, as the region prepared for some of the coldest wind chills in decades.
If there was a bit of cold comfort for residents who had to be outside in the harsh conditions, it was this: At least they weren’t atop Mount Washington, in New Hampshire, the region’s highest peak, where the temperature was already minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit and expected to drop to minus 46. High winds were making the temperature feel like minus 84.
Temperatures and wind speeds were expected to break records across the region.
In northern New England, where residents pride themselves on cold-weather endurance, the combination of frigid cold and high winds forced some to make rare accommodations. Wildcat Mountain, a 4,000-foot peak in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, closed to skiers on Friday, citing the risks from the adverse conditions.
Sixty miles to the south, at Lake Waukewan in Meredith, N.H., organizers opted not to cancel the Pond Hockey Classic, a packed schedule of outdoor ice hockey games for die-hard adult players on Friday and Saturday. Organizers warned players of the risk of frostbite and hypothermia and urged them to bring dry clothing, to leave immediately after their games and to keep an eye on teammates.
In Boston, where the deep freeze was forecast to hit minus 6 degrees by sunrise Saturday, Gov. Maura Healey of Massachusetts said the doors at South Station, the downtown train hub, would remain unlocked overnight on Friday and Saturday for those who chose not to use the city’s other shelters.
Mayor Michelle Wu of Boston declared a cold emergency from Friday through Sunday. Public schools were closed on Friday because of the weather, with school officials worried that children might get hypothermia or frostbite while commuting, especially those who took public transportation.
The core of the Arctic air mass will be over northern New England, but even places like New York City were expected to experience wind chill readings below zero.
Mayor Eric Adams of New York tweeted on Thursday that Code Blue was in effect, which means no one seeking shelter will be denied.
Forecasters in Maine expect the wind chill in Portland to be minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit by Friday night. The last time the area experienced that wind chill was in 1981. But the winds there, and across the Northeast, will quickly die down through Saturday and the weather will return to typical winter cold on Sunday.
“I don’t know if I’ve seen it, minus 15 to minus 20 degrees with a 40-mile-per-hour wind,” said Justin Arnott, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service Office in Portland, Maine. “So it’s kind of, you know, reaching the limit of what I’ve seen in my life.”
In Connecticut, Gov. Ned Lamont announced that the state’s severe weather protocol would be in place until Sunday afternoon, allowing municipalities to coordinate with United Way 2-1-1 and the state’s shelter network to make sure people can access indoor shelter.
“With the kind of severe cold weather that is headed our way, frostbite can develop on exposed skin in under 30 minutes,” Mr. Lamont said. “Spending long periods of time outdoors in these conditions is not only harmful, it can be fatal.”