New York Prepares for Frigid Blast as Cold Grips

Tuesday, 08 Feb 2011 09:42 AM


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A frigid blast driven by winds of 30 mph will send New York City temperatures plunging more than 20 degrees today as arctic cold grips much of the U.S.

The temperature in Central Park, which was 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 Celsius) as of 8 a.m., will hit a low of 14, according to the National Weather Service in Upton, New York.

“The real punch of cold air will come on a northwest wind this afternoon,” said Tim Morrin, a weather service meteorologist in Upton. “It’s going to be pretty cold.”

The frigid air will blanket most of the country and may bring a low of 10 degrees to Boston and 14 to Philadelphia. In the central U.S., temperatures have fallen to between 10 and zero and snow may reach into Texas again, with the weather service forecasting that Dallas may receive as much as 4 inches overnight.

“With the wind factored in, you can probably take 20 degrees off the temperature and that is what it is going to feel like in the East,” said Tom Kines, a meteorologist with AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania. “Out in the central and southern Plains you can probably take 30 degrees off.”

Last week, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which operates the state’s grid, ordered rotating outages to help power generators cope with demand for electricity. New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez declared a state of emergency because of natural-gas shortages, which were reported across the Southwest as demand rose and power outages disrupted transmission and production.

Degree Days

Since December there have been 2,296 heating degree days in Central Park, or 216 above normal, according to the weather service.

For February, there have been 217, or 9 fewer than normal, meaning this month has been a little warmer than average. In Boston, there have been 2,399 since Dec. 1, or 113 above normal; in Dallas, 1,419, or 59 above normal; and in Washington there have been 2,087, or 194 above normal.

The value, calculated by subtracting the daily average temperature from a base of 65 degrees, is designed to show energy demand. The higher the value, the cooler the weather and the more energy being used to heat homes and business.

Wind chill warnings and advisories stretch from the Canadian border in North Dakota and Montana to Nebraska and Illinois. Temperatures in parts of South Dakota will feel like minus 30 to minus 45 degrees, according to the weather service. In Chicago, the temperature will feel like minus 20 to minus 25 degrees tonight through tomorrow, according to the weather service.

Taking Precautions

“Wind chill values at this level will cause frostbite to exposed skin within 30 minutes,” according to the weather service bulletin. “Bring pets indoors; pets can suffer from frostbite and hypothermia similar to their human caregivers.”

Hypothermia, which sets in when the body’s temperature falls to 95 degrees or lower, kills an estimated 28,000 people per year, according to the weather service. Signs of hypothermia include shivering, confusion, memory loss, slurred speech and drowsiness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

“It’s going to be brutal out there,” Kines said.

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