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Multi-vehicle accidents ensue as dangerous snow squalls usher fierce cold into northeastern US

By Courtney Spamer, AccuWeather meteorologist
January 30, 2019, 11:39:39 PM EST

Numerous multi-vehicle accidents ensued in the northeastern United States as dangerous snow squalls marked the arrival of brutal cold on Wednesday.

Snow squalls preceded the rush of Arctic air into the region, contributing to accidents on Wednesday afternoon and Wednesday evening.

Whiteouts were reported in major cities just before the Wednesday evening commute, including Philadelphia and New York City.

A multi-vehicle accident was reported on Rt. 222 near Reading, Pennsylvania, around the time that a snow squall moved through, according to WFMZ-TV. Over two dozen vehicles were involved in the crash with multiple injuries, but no fatalities.

"Snow squalls are notorious for causing chain-reaction accidents," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski said.

Snow squalls had reduced visibility down to one-eighth of a mile at the Reading Regional Airport from 1:17 to 1:47 p.m. EST. Victims and rescue crews had to deal with subzero AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures immediately following the crash.

Another pileup occurred on Interstate 78 near Hamburg, Pennsylvania, on Wednesday afternoon, according to WFMZ. Initial reports indicate that the crash involved at least 14 vehicles. There are no reports of serious injuries.

In the wake of Wednesday's squalls, temperatures are not expected to dive quite as low as they have in the Upper Midwest. That will not diminish how dangerous this cold blast can be.

Coldest Jan 30

"The coldest air will settle into interior parts of the Northeast, where the mercury will drop well below into Thursday morning," Edwards said.

The coldest air will reach the I-95 corridor into Thursday. After single-digit low temperatures, high temperatures on Thursday will only be in the teens for major hubs such as Philadelphia, New York City and Boston.

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Biting winds will make it feel even colder than what the mercury reads through Friday, bringing AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures well below the actual temperature.

With RealFeel Temperatures this low, dangers such as frostbite and hypothermia can take hold in less than 30 minutes.

Those impacted by the cold will have to take the proper precautions and cover all exposed skin to avoid these dangers. The homeless should be encouraged to stay in shelters.

Residents should ensure that they have a proper amount of propane, wood pellets and/or firewood to last during this cold outbreak.

Motorists should travel with a winter survival kit in the event their vehicle breaks down, and they are forced to wait for help. Precautions should be made to prep your car for the harsh cold to help keep you from getting stranded.

Thurs RF Jan 30

The very cold air pouring over the warmer waters of the Great Lakes will create lake-effect snow downwind of the lakes into Friday.

The cold is expected to ease across the Northeast at week's end, with a taste of March on the horizon for Sunday and Monday.

Download the free AccuWeather app to see temperature trends in your community.

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