The Northeast is currently experiencing a bitter cold snap, with temperatures as low as negative 109 degrees Fahrenheit being recorded in New Hampshire. The combination of low temperatures and strong winds is causing hazardous conditions throughout the region, with blizzard warnings and cold emergency declarations in several states. If you live in the Northeast, it is important to stay informed and take the necessary precautions to stay safe.

The National Weather Service (NWS) has reported that temperatures in parts of the Northeast and coastal mid-Atlantic are 10 to 30 degrees below normal over the weekend. This is due to the weakened polar vortex, a region of cold air that usually stays in the same region around the North Pole. In Maine, blizzard warnings have been issued and wind gusts as strong as 45 miles per hour and wind chills as low as 65 degrees below zero are expected.

The NWS has also warned that these temperatures can cause frostbite on exposed skin in as little as five minutes. Widespread blowing snow could also greatly reduce visibility throughout parts of the state and cause whiteout conditions. The Maine State Police have closed part of a highway due to heavy snow drifting and whiteout conditions, and the Boston Mayor has declared a cold emergency effective through Sunday. In New York, a “Code Blue” is in effect for many of the state’s counties and people are encouraged to call 211 if they need information about finding food, shelter or health care.

The NWS has said that temperatures should begin to rise on Sunday, but until then it is important to take the necessary precautions to stay safe. If you must travel, make sure to have a “winter survival kit” with you, and if you get stranded, stay in your vehicle. It is also important to check on your neighbors and friends to make sure they are safe and warm.