BOSTON — Bitter cold is setting in after a major winter storm blanketed a wide swath of the country in snow, sleet and rain this weekend, creating dangerously icy conditions that promise to complicate cleanup efforts and make travel challenging today on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Some of the coldest temperatures felt so far this season started to set in across the Midwest and Northeast Sunday and are expected to plunge further.
Wind chills will bring temperatures into teens in the New York City area and down to minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit in upstate New York, the National Weather Service predicted.
In New England, they’ll fall to as low as 20 F below zero around Boston and as low as 35 F below zero in parts of Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire, the service said.
Temperatures across the Great Lakes, Ohio Valley and the Mid-Atlantic will drop 10 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit below average, the service said.
“It’s life-threatening,” said Ray O’Keefe, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albany. “These are dangerous conditions that we’re going to be in and they’re prolonged, right through tomorrow.”
The freeze will follow the weekend’s run-ins with power outages, canceled trains and planes, overnight stays at the airport and traffic jams.
Local officials warned residents to limit their time outside to prevent frostbite and to avoid treacherous travel conditions. They also said places could see strong wind gusts, flooding and further power outages.
Utilities in Connecticut reported more than 20,000 customers without power by Sunday afternoon.
“We had more freezing rain and sleet than we expected,” Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said Sunday as public works crews across the state raced to clear and treat major roadways before dangerous black ice could form.
The storm — caused by the clash of an Arctic high-pressure system with a low-pressure system coming through the Ohio Valley — wreaked havoc on air travel and other forms of transportation all weekend.
More than 1,500 flights were canceled nationwide Sunday, according to FlightAware, a flight tracking company.
Among the hardest hit was Boston’s Logan Airport, where stranded passengers lingered Sunday as typically bustling security lines, ticketing counters and baggage claims were largely deserted.
Xavi Ortega, a 32-year old engineer from Spain, said he and his wife slept overnight at the airport after their Saturday night flight home to Barcelona was canceled.