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What is an Arctic outbreak? Is it the same as an Arctic blast? Polar vortex wind chills in New England

Parts of northeastern Unite States look set to suffer historically cold temperatures this week as a mass of cold air from the Arctic brings a big freeze.

New England braces for historic Arctic blast

The north-east of the United States is braced for a historic spell of cold weather over the weekend that could see wind chills of -50F (-45C) in parts of New England. Meteorologists have warned of an extreme weather throughout an area spanning from northern Pennsylvania to Maine.

The frigid weather is the result of an Arctic outbreak that will bring freezing temperatures to the region. But what is an Artic outbreak, and how does it differ from an Arctic blast?

The National Weather Service defines Arctic outbreaks as: “Very cold air masses that typically originate in the Siberian Region of Asia, cross over the north pole into Canada and push south and east into the lower United States.”

Is this the same as an Arctic blast? Yes! They are both names for a cold air masses that occasionally break from the Arctic region to bring a sudden burst of cold weather to surrounding areas. Residents have seen perishingly cold temperature already this week but the mercury will continue to drop over the next 24 hours.

CNN Meteorologist Taylor Ward warns that the worst is yet to come: “Temperatures in most regions will likely have their highest temperatures of the day before sunrise as temperatures will fall throughout the day Friday. Strong winds will bring dangerously cold temperatures, with the peak of the cold in the Northeast occurring late Friday to Saturday morning.

How cold will it be in New England this weekend?

On Friday afternoon Mount Washington in New Hampshire saw the temperature drop to -37F (-38C) as the arctic outbreak begins to take hold. In addition to the well-below-freezing temperature, winds of up to 98mph were recorded.

This extraordinary weather is expected to continue across the weekend in the Northeast. Residents could be forced to endure some of the coldest wind chills seen in decades and things are expected to get worse before they get better.

The New York Times reports that Saturday will see the temperatures drop and the winds pick up, making outdoor conditions feel even colder for anyone unlucky enough to be outside. Things should start to improve by midday Sunday but warnings of extreme weather continue.

The NWS forecast office in Boston expects temperatures to fall to levels not seen since the cold snap of February 2016, but areas to the north of the city will be even colder. New York City should be spared the worst of the arctic outbreak but will still see temperature dip to 9F (-12C) on Saturday.


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