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Excessive Heat Watch

Piercing cold blast to feel subzero in central, northeastern US through first days of 2018

By Alex Sosnowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
January 01, 2018, 10:24:09 PM EST

Cold air rivaling that of the past 100 years for early January will make it painful to be outdoors and may lead to damage in the central and northeastern United States.

AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures are projected to be below zero over much of the Northeast and well below zero in much of the Midwest.

People who rang in the new year in Times Square endured a temperature of 9 degrees Fahrenheit at midnight, which marked the second coldest ball drop on record in New York City. The coldest ball drop occurred a century ago with a midnight temperature of 1.

At least 30 states were experiencing below zero temperatures on New Year's Day morning.

Most low temperature records from the northern and central Plains to the mid-Atlantic and New England are likely to remain in tact.

NE Regional 1.2

However, in terms of the level of cold, actual temperatures in many locations will be in the lower 5 percentile for all years on record for early January, according to the National Weather Service.

Standout years for record cold in the Northeast at this point in the season were in 1880-81 and 1917-18. In the Midwest, the years 1967-68 and 1973-74 left a mark with subzero F cold.

"While the level of cold will vary from one day to the next, indications are that the frigid weather will linger through the first week of January in the Central and Eastern states," according to AccuWeather Long-Range Meteorologist Max Vido.

arctic blast

"It may not be until toward the second or third week of the month before many areas get above the freezing mark for a time," Vido said.

There is also the likelihood the severe cold will help spin up a powerful storm on the coast later this week.

The severity and persistence of the cold blast may take a toll on the homeless population.

Energy demands will skyrocket. Household heating budgets may take a huge hit.

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Some forms of commerce may be negatively affected as people spend a minimum amount of time outdoors other than commuting to and from work and school.

At this level of cold, the risk of frostbite is greatly elevated for those spending more than a few minutes outdoors. The extremities, such as fingers, toes and ears, are at greatest risk.

Be sure to check on young children and the elderly as they are more prone to having serious health issues in these conditions.

When traveling, be sure to bring along blankets, knitted hats and gloves in case your vehicle becomes disabled.

Elevated risk of water damage from burst pipes

In addition to health concerns, the severe, penetrating cold may cause pipes and water mains to burst.

Be sure to promptly report persistently running water through yards and streets to the local water authority or the police if unsure.

A simple matter of opening cabinet doors and removing a few ceiling tiles may be enough to prevent costly damage in poorly heated and insulated areas. Property owners that will be away for a length of time may want to allow water to drip from faucets in the coldest rooms.

Under no circumstances should property owners attempt to thaw pipes with an open flame due to the risk of starting a fire.

Never leave space heaters unattended and only use in an open area away from furniture, rugs and clothes.

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