Texas has begun to thaw out a day after a deadly winter storm caused power outages, while a new wave of frigid weather rolling into the Northeast.
Wind chills in some higher elevations of the Northeast could punch below minus 50 (minus 45 Celsius) as an Arctic front swept in from Canada, forecasters said.
In Texas, Austin officials compared damage from fallen trees and iced-over power lines to tornadoes as they came under criticism for slow repairs and shifting timelines to restore power. More than 244,000 customers across the state lacked power early Friday, down from 430,000 on Thursday, according to PowerOutage.us.
Power failures were most widespread in Austin. Impatience rose there among nearly 123,000 customers days after the electricity first went out.
Austin Energy noted Friday morning that power was restored to more than 30,000 customers. However, it noted that it can no longer provide an estimate on when power would fully be restored as it says each situation is different.
In New England, temperatures began plunging Friday morning.
“The worst part of the upcoming cold snap is going to be the wind,” which has already topped 80 mph (129 kph) in higher elevations, said National Weather Service lead forecaster Bob Oravec. Frigid wind chills — the combined effect of wind and cold air on exposed skin — are expected Saturday.
The worst wind chills in the populated areas of the Northeast shouldn’t go lower than minus 40 (minus 40 Celsius), he said.
Wind gusts as high as 40 mph raised the prospect of power outages in Maine, and communities began opening warming stations.
Even cold-weather sports were curtailed. Some ski resorts scaled back operations, eliminating night skiing and reducing lift operations. A popular weekend pond hockey tournament was postponed, and the National Toboggan Championship pushed Saturday’s races back by a day.
Schools closed Friday in Boston and in Manchester, New Hampshire's largest city. “In these conditions, frostbite can develop in as little as 30 minutes," an announcement on the Manchester district's website read. "This is simply too cold for students who walk home.”
Some of the most extreme weather was expected atop New Hampshire’s Mount Washington, the Northeast's highest peak and home to a weather observatory, where winds gusted to nearly 100 mph (160 kph) and wind chills could reach minus 100 (minus 73 Celsius).
The system is expected to move out of the region Sunday.