Boston is bracing through the start of a brutally cold snap of weather, as arctic air sweeps into New England — sending temperatures into potentially hazardous territory.
Doctors say people should not underestimate how dangerous this cold snap will be.
The good news is it’s not a long duration deep freeze – but it’s dangerous nonetheless.
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With the worst yet to come Friday night into Saturday morning, the weather was already breaking records by the afternoon.
For the first time, wind chill warnings were issued on Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. And the low temperature set a record for Feb. 3 on New Hampshire's Mt. Washington, with the mercury expected to continue dropping as the day wore on.
Doctors Warn About Frostbite
Doctors said that even for hearty New Englanders, our bodies are not really used to this extremely cold weather this year because it's been such a mild winter so far.
If you can avoid going out, you will be safer staying indoors, doctors say. Frostbite is a real concern Friday and Saturday when the temperature will be below zero for several hours – and that’s before wind chill is factored in.
“If we’re in -15, -25 degree temperatures with the wind chill, frost bite can happen in 5-10 minutes," deputy chair of the department of emergency medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital Dr. Ali Raja said. "So if you are going out, make sure you layer up, make sure you try to cover up every bit of exposed skin, you have to have gloves, you have to have scarves around your face, make sure that if you have exposed skin, you try to cover it up.”
Protecting People Who Are Unhoused
In this dangerously cold weather, one major concern is for the unhoused population. In response to that concern, there will be 24-hour access to South Station for individuals who are unhoused Friday and Saturday.
For the past several years, there had been policy to push that unhoused population out of the station at 11 p.m.
Shelters will not be turning anyone away during this arctic blast. They will have warming centers, even for people who don’t want to stay in a bed.
The Pine Street Inn will have its outreach vans out, even adding two additional transport vehicles through cold spell.
“They will be transporting people to shelter who want shelter, they will be trying to convince people who don’t want shelter to come to shelter, and honestly in some cases we’ll ask people to sit in the van with us for a few hours just to get out of the worst of it," Pine Street Inn Executive Director Lyndia Downie said. "So they’ll be doing all of that, they’ll be checking in on people on a regular basis. We do have a list of people we think are particularly vulnerable, either due to health conditions or mental health or substance use, that we will be very focused on getting them in.”
School Closings in New England
Several school districts in the region have called off classes on Friday, due to the frigid temperatures, including Worcester and Boston.
Travel Impacted by Cold Weather
This weekend's extreme cold snap may affect travel, for those who do end up venturing outside.
Given the weather, planes may be delayed at Logan International and Worcester Regional airports over the weekend, officials said.
The extreme conditions prompted officials to cancel this weekend's Sumner Tunnel closure, since workers won't be able to do their usual work. And the closure of the Orange Line between Ruggles and North stations on Saturday was canceled as well, the Department of Transportation said.
The MBTA is putting steps in place to keep buses and trains on schedule or at least close to.
The frigid temperatures made it difficult to get around Friday night.
"It's like you can't really breathe because it's so cold," said Brookline resident Julie Tokarowski.
Dealing with the arctic blast is hard enough, but when you have to wait for your train to arrive, it makes things even more brutal.
Many stops on the Green Line are outside, without a lot of protection from the cold and the wind.
"It's frustrating," said passenger Hailey Scatchard. "I wish we had a heated place to stay while you wait outside. It's not ideal."