Bitter cold reaches southern New England
Let's first start off by saying that around this time of year, "cold" is inevitable. It's winter in New England and we can expect a little bite. With that said, I'm confident in saying that the final days of 2017 are going to be pretty tough. During the month of December, the average seasonal high is around 39° and the average seasonal low is roughly 23°. We won't be anywhere near those numbers for the foreseeable future.
Let's first discuss the ambient temperatures (what you read on the thermometer). On Thursday, most will start in the single digits. Coastal locations may sneak to 10° around sunrise but anyone farther north, especially north of Providence, will start off colder than cold. In fact, there's a chance Providence breaks at 60+ year record. The record, as it stands today, is 4° and was set in 1950.
A ridge of high pressure dominates our region leaving us with mostly sunny skies but that sunshine does nothing for our afternoon highs. By 2pm (typical time for daily high temperature in December), most locations will record highs in the teens with some struggle to reach 10°.
Now, if that isn't cold enough for you, then let's introduce the wind. It might not seem all that impressive, but the 12-15mph winds will play a pivotal role in what it feels like outside. We call those "feel like temperatures" the Wind Chill Index or WCI. Thursday will undoubtedly be the coldest of the season thus far as models predict WCI's to range from -5 to -15°.
These temperatures and WCI could be dangerous if not taken seriously. We don't typically throw the word frostbite around in southern New England, but with the winds persisting for the majority of the day, any prolonged exposure could lead to symptoms. Take that into consideration for pets as well. They can suffer from the same issues as us. Take a look at the light blue area below. If out in these conditions for 30 minutes or longer, it could be harmful.
Moral of the story: break out the warm gear and hunker down. We're in for a cold stretch but if you prepare, this arctic blast should be a breeze.
-Meteorologist Zack Green