The polar vortex will cause temperatures to tumble to their lowest levels in years across New England late this week. The harsh cold, when paired with strong winds, could cause frostbite in minutes, and one remote location will face weather conditions so extreme that it will feel otherworldly.
The heart of the cold weather is forecast to unfold across New England from Friday afternoon through Saturday morning with subzero temperatures expected across a widespread area. Boston is forecast to experience one of its top-five lowest temperatures in recorded history on Saturday morning with the mercury predicted to reach 10 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. But the extreme nature of the upcoming Arctic blast will be unparalleled at the summit of Mount Washington, the tallest mountain in the northeastern Unites States.
The AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperature is forecast to drop to 100 degrees below zero at the summit of the 6,288-foot-tall mountain in northern New Hampshire on Friday night into Saturday morning.
AccuWeather meteorologists are forecasting the actual temperature on Mount Washington to bottom out around 45 degrees below zero, but wind gusts over 85 mph will send RealFeel temperatures to levels rarely observed on Earth. For comparison, the weather instrument on the Mars Curiosity rover regularly observes low temperatures around 100 degrees below zero.
The predicted wind speeds — while intense — are a far cry from the all-time wind record set on the mountain on April 10, 1934. On that date, a 231-mph wind gust was clocked, the highest wind speed ever observed by an anemometer, an instrument designed to measure wind speeds.
However, the AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperature could reach or exceed the lowest levels ever observed on the mountain.
According to AccuWeather Senior Weather Editor Jesse Ferrell, a wind chill of 102.68 degrees below zero Fahrenheit was reported on Jan. 16, 2004, the record for the lowest wind chill on record. The wind chill describes the cooling effect of wind and temperature, which is different than the AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperature, which also takes into account humidity, precipitation, cloud cover and visibility to give a better sense of what it feels like outside.
A handful of people may briefly experience the extraordinarily cold conditions at the summit this weekend.
The observatory is continuously staffed by two alternating crews who live at the summit to maintain the weather station, perform weather and climate research and conduct educational programs. Maintaining the station requires people to periodically venture outside to inspect the instruments and clear any ice that could interfere with the collection of weather data.
The extreme weather will not be long-lasting across the Northeast, as a milder, tranquil weather pattern is forecast for the first full week of February. At the summit of Mount Washington, high temperatures are forecast to settle in the 20s with low temperatures in the teens, temperatures 10 to 15 degrees above normal by February standards.
Produced in association with AccuWeather.