An arctic airmass will cause record-low temperatures in parts of the Northeast this weekend. Extreme cold puts the New England region at risk, where several cities are already on "wind chill alert" and activated "warming shelters." The National Weather Service warned:
Very dangerous wind chills are likely and widespread wind chill warnings and advisories are already in effect for all of New England and parts of the Northeast. ... The potential exists for numerous record low temperatures Saturday morning.
Get ready, as our 2nd arctic airmass of the season arrives late tonight, and lasts into Saturday. The bitter cold won't last long; by Saturday night the cold will ease, with temperatures rebounding into the 40s Sunday. #nycwx #njwx #ctwx #nywx #liwx pic.twitter.com/9HDeSQCrVs
- NWS New York NY (@NWSNewYorkNY) February 2, 2023
The city of Boston is bracing for temperatures so low that they could break records. AccuWeather Senior Editor Jesse Ferrell commented:
Boston is in the running to set a top-five low-temperature mark Saturday morning when the core of the Arctic air will settle over New England. ... Should the temperature bottom out near 10 below zero as data suggests, it will be the fourth coldest morning on record since 1936.
Boston could see temperatures as low as -30º F. The lowest temperature ever recorded in the city was -14ºF, on Feb. 15, 1943.
Extreme cold will arrive over the weekend across northern New England (Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island) and will spread to New York. Temperatures between -30°F and -60°F could be experienced in the Empire State early Saturday morning.
An arctic front tracking through the region early this morning ushers in a brief shot of frigid air today into Saturday. Wind gusts up to 45 mph behind the frontal passage will lead to wind chill values well below zero late today into Saturday. #NYwx #CTwx #NJwx pic.twitter.com/7EE7O93Tis
- NWS New York NY (@NWSNewYorkNY) February 3, 2023
Poor conditions could also reach Washington, which may see temperatures around 0°F.
New Hampshire will see the most extreme conditions. The summit of Mount Washington is bracing for temperatures as low as -85°F, according to meteorologist Sam Lillo of the University of Oklahoma:
This forecast for Mount Washington this weekend ... pic.twitter.com/PhUvI92kp3
- Sam Lillo (@splillo) January 31, 2023
The polar vortex and the arctic blast
An arctic blast is a cold front from the Arctic that brings low temperatures, snowfall, rain and strong winds that are pushed southward by atmospheric currents. Meteorologist Ryan Maue explained to the AP:
These severe weather events usually form over bodies of water, which have lots of warmth and moisture to feed the storm.
The current Arctic blast formed from a polar vortex, an area of low pressure and cold air that is constant throughout the year but weakens in the summer and strengthens in the winter. The polar vortex is located in the troposphere, the layer of the atmosphere that is closest to the Earth.
An Arctic cold front will bring snow squalls to portions of the Northeast later today and tonight. Sudden whiteout conditions in snow squalls will create dangerous driving conditions.
Bitterly cold wind chills are expected from Friday into Saturday over much of the Northeast. pic.twitter.com/tBYr4RfvFA
— NWS Weather Prediction Center (@NWSWPC) February 2, 2023