BOSTON — The New England states are bracing for extreme cold that is already closing some schools and threatening the power grid this week.
Boston, the state's largest public school district, announced Monday that schools will not open Tuesday because of expected extremely cold temperatures.
The high in the city Tuesday is expected to be 12 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 11 C), with wind chills making it feel as low as minus 8 (minus 22 C), according to National Weather Service forecasters. It could feel as low as minus 15 (minus 26 C) in some areas of Massachusetts, according to the weather service.
Temperatures that low can result in frostbite to exposed skin in as little as 30 minutes. Closing schools in advance of the cold is the safest approach in Boston, Mayor Michelle Wu said.
"We want to make sure there's no risk of students being either out in the cold on the way to school or having issues in school because of the ventilation that's needed with the pandemic," said Wu, who added the district is also dealing with shortages in staffing and bus drivers.
And it could be even colder elsewhere in New England, as forecasters said wind chill could approach minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 40 C) in some parts of western Maine. Central Maine Power, the largest utility in the state, said it expects to see a rise in electricity usage on Tuesday because of the use of electric space heaters and fireplaces.
The utility said it is encouraging customers to weather strip windows and open drapes to let in heat from the sun and allow sunlight to reduce reliance on electricity during the cold spell.
"We often see increased electricity usage with cold temperatures like what is expected this week," said CMP vice president of customer service Linda Ball.
Low temperatures below zero, not including the wind chill, are also expected in Burlington, Vermont, and Concord, New Hampshire. Southern New England is unlikely to be spared, as forecasters said Providence, Rhode Island, should expect a wind chill value of as low as minus one degree Fahrenheit (minus 17 C).
Whittle reported from Portland, Maine.