Temperatures in the Northeast reached record lows on Friday as a result of the bitter cold.
On the summit of Mount Washington in New Hampshire, the wind chill — or how cold it feels — dropped to minus 108 degrees Fahrenheit.
According to Brian Brettschneider, an Alaskan climate scientist, this is likely the lowest wind chill ever recorded in the United States since meteorologists began calculating wind chills.
Based on historical records at Mount Washington, the wind chill could have been minus 108 degrees Fahrenheit or lower on January 22, 1885. The low that day was minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and the 24-hour average wind speed was 89 miles per hour, according to Brettschneider. He predicted that this combination would result in a wind chill of less than 108 degrees Fahrenheit.
The temperature on Mount Washington dropped to minus 46 degrees Fahrenheit on Friday night, with winds gusting to 97 miles per hour, according to the National Weather Service.
The weather service reported record daily lows in Boston, Massachusetts (minus 8 degrees Fahrenheit), Providence, Rhode Island (minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit), and Bridgeport, Connecticut (2 degrees Fahrenheit). Weather forecast for the weekend:
Elsewhere The weather service reported an extreme wind chill of minus 62 degrees Fahrenheit on Cadillac Mountain in Maine’s Acadia National Park on Friday night. Wind chills ranging from -31 to -61 degrees Fahrenheit were reported in at least five counties in Maine.
Wind chills of less than 32 degrees Fahrenheit were also reported across much of New Hampshire.
The goal of wind chill measurement is to help people understand the dangers of being exposed to cold temperatures. To a point, the colder it will feel as the air temperature drops and the wind speed increases. Wind chill was invented in the 1940s by an Antarctic explorer and a polar scientist, Paul Siple and Charles Passel. It was based on the amount of time it took for a vessel filled with near-freezing water to freeze under wind and temperature conditions.
The wind chill scale was revised in 2001, according to the weather service, following a series of tests on volunteers in a chilled wind tunnel.