So much for a warm and fuzzy Valentine’s Day.
As many as 18 cities across the East could endure record-breaking cold Sunday, forecasters say.
New York City’s temperature could plummet to -1 degrees Fahrenheit at Central Park– shattering the record of 2 degrees set during World War I.
Bridgeport, Connecticut, could suffer an all-time low of -1 degrees. Philadelphia could tie its record low of 2 degrees.
And those are just the real temperatures.
Factor in brutal winds, and every state from northern Pennsylvania to Maine will feel wind chills below -15 degrees.
Sunday’s wind chill warnings affected over a dozen states from the Mid-Atlantic up into New England and affects some 53 million people.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio urged residents to brace for dangerous conditions.
“The city is facing some of the coldest temperatures and wind chills we’ve seen in the last 20 years,” de Blasio said. “Extremely cold weather can be life-threatening — especially for seniors, infants and people with medical conditions.
The city ordered all crane operations to stop Saturday due to the fierce winds.
The bitter cold air, however, is not forecast to last long. Temperatures will warm throughout the day, but will remain cold enough for the possibility of more days of severe winter weather if a new system moves in.
Parts of the South under the gun
Even the South isn’t immune to the brutal winter weather.
Another storm is expected to develop Monday in the Southeast and then move to the Northeast by Tuesday.
The heaviest snow will likely fall from Tennessee to the interior Northeast, meteorologists say, especially near the eastern Great Lakes and higher elevations of the Appalachians.
‘Wall of snow’
A cold air mass across the Great Lakes has spawned heavy lake-effect snow that is pushing inland, especially near Buffalo, New York.
Lake-effect snow happens when moisture from warmer lake waters mixes with cold air from the north, causing more than 2 to 3 inches of snow an hour.
“Depending on where you are, if you’re just south or north of this lake effect, it can look like a wall of snow is coming down,” CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said.
Intense snow and terrible visibility Saturday factored into a fatal pileup involving at least 60 vehicles near Fredericksburg, Pennsylvania.
At least three people died in the pileup on Interstate 78, Pennsylvania State Police said. More than 70 people were injured.
“It was definitely a whiteout. I couldn’t see any farther than probably two city blocks,” Raoul Jardine of Allentown said.
“I saw brake lights and pulled off to the side. Somebody hit me when I was parked in the shoulder.”
Parts of I-78 were still closed Sunday morning.
With the coldest weather of the season, the National Weather Service issued a warning about the symptoms and dangers of frostbite.
When frostbite strikes, ice crystals can form on the skin. Then the skin starts feeling warm, even though it hasn’t defrosted, the weather agency said.
After that, the skin can have a waxy appearance and turn red, pale or white, the NWS said. Finally, frostbitten skin can turn dark blue, black or gray, and cause pain that can last for hours.