US east coast hit by brutally cold and dangerous temperatures

Tens of millions of people under wind chill and freeze warnings throughout Saturday


Much of the US east coast woke up on Saturday to brutally cold and dangerous temperatures as the region recovers from a powerful blizzard that unleashed heavy snows and strong winds.

From northern Florida up through New York City into New England, tens of millions of people will be under wind chill and freeze warnings throughout the day as temperatures in some parts of the north were expected to be –40 degrees Celsius, while in parts of the south highs were forecast to be 20 degrees below average.

“It can be very dangerous,” said Dan Pydynowski, a meteorologist with forecasting service AccuWeather. “Any kind of exposed skin can freeze in a couple of minutes.”

The cold snap comes as workers clear snow and ice from roadways after a blizzard clobbered the region on Thursday and Friday, forcing hundreds of schools to close, major airports to shut down and several commuter rail services to suspend or reduce service.

The snowstorm, the region’s first of 2018, featured gusts of more than 113km/h and dumped 56cm of snow in parts of Maine and 43cm in parts of Massachusetts before ending on Friday, the National Weather Service said.

The storm was powered by a rapid drop in barometric pressure that some weather forecasters called a bombogenesis, or a “bomb cyclone”.

The cold and snowy weather has been blamed for at least 18 deaths in the past few days, including four in North Carolina traffic incidents and three in Texas.

Cities from Houston to Boston have stepped up efforts to bring the homeless to shelters amid the cold weather. Authorities said three homeless people in Texas had died from exposure to the cold.

Canada’s largest city, Toronto, scrambled to find emergency shelter for its homeless as temperatures dropped to record lows, after the blizzard knocked out power to tens of thousands of people in eastern provinces and destroyed coastal roads.

Nearly 500 members of the US National Guard were mobilised to assist with the emergency response along the east coast, including 200 in New York state, authorities said. – Reuters