Warming centers were being opened across Maine on Thursday as the state braced for bitterly cold temperatures that could see wind chills of minus 60 degrees, officials said.
Wind chills of minus 35 degrees could be seen along the coasts of Maine, and minus 45 in the foothills, the governor’s office said in warning residents to stay prepared and safe.
“Frostbite and hypothermia are real risks when temperatures are this extreme,” Nirav D. Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a statement.
Wind chill warnings covered more than 16 million people in the U.S. Thursday night, according to the National Weather Service, with the largest area in a swath from Syracuse and Binghamton in New York and across New England and Maine.
The weather service in Caribou in far northeastern Maine, where there was also a blizzard warning, said that winds of 50 mph and wind chills as low as minus 60 degrees were possible.
The coastal wind chills of minus 40 to minus 45 degrees along Maine’s coast could be the coldest some Mainers have ever felt.
“Although unofficial, from the records we have been able to gather, the coldest wind chill in Portland since 1948 was -43 degrees in 1971, so we are nearing wind chills values that most have not seen in their lifetime,” the weather service said in a forecast discussion.
Wind chill warnings will be in place from 4 a.m. Friday to 7 p.m. Saturday in Caribou. In the state capital of Augusta, the warning is from 10 a.m. Friday to 1 p.m. Saturday.
Other northeastern states were preparing and warning residents as well.
Massachusetts’ emergency management agency warned of dangerous cold late Friday and into Saturday, and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said the cold could be life-threatening.
Power companies, including National Grid and Central Maine Power, said they were preparing for the sub-zero temperatures.
New York City’s Friday night low was forecast at 9 degrees, and the city’s emergency management department warned of wind chills that could be minus 5 degrees.
In Boston, a low of minus 8 degrees was forecast for Friday night. Wind chills could reach 35 below zero, the weather service said. Boston closed schools on Friday to protect students.
The warnings about the Arctic blast forecast for the Northeast comes as an ice storm that caused misery in Texas was winding down Thursday.
But the effects persisted there. More than 323,000 homes and businesses in the state remained without power Thursday night, mostly in central and northeastern Texas.
Austin Energy, which had 142,000 customers without electricity Thursday night, said it was unable to provide an estimated time for the entire system to be restored. Utility Oncor had around 100,000 customers without power.