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It's cold, and it's likely going to stay that way for a while

Union Leader Correspondent

December 27. 2017 9:28PM
Salem firefighters Nick Michaud, left, and Rob Douglas, right, are busy this week with other firefighter crews, clearing snowbound hydrants around Salem. There are more than 900 hydrants around Salem, and they like to keep them clear for hoses to be attached in the event of any need. The Salem Fire Department invites residents to adopt their own hydrant near their homes and keep them clear when they clear their own properties of snow. (Allegra Boverman/Union Leader)

Granite Staters are being warned to bundle up as the coldest air of the season arrives for what could be the longest stretch of frigid air in years.

“I think what’s going to be more significant about this outbreak is how long it’s going to last. I really don’t see us getting above freezing anywhere in the next 10 days,” said Eric Sinsabaugh, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine.

Wind-chill warnings were issued for northern New Hampshire until this morning, when dangerously cold wind chills of 30 to 40 degrees below zero were expected. Advisories were in effect in central and southern parts of the state for wind chills of 15 to 25 degrees below.

Additional warnings and advisories are expected in the coming days as wind chill values continue to plummet, raising concerns about frostbite on exposed skin in a short period of time.

Even without the wind, forecasters are calling for bitter cold temperatures with lows well below zero across the state and highs struggling to reach zero in northern New Hampshire while southern parts see high temperatures in the single digits to teens.

Minus 21 is the record low for Concord for Dec. 28, Dec. 29 and Dec. 30, set in 1933.

Sinsabaugh said he doesn’t expect Concord to shatter those records, but it’s possible that the area could see record-low high temperatures.

Anthony Masello of Atkinson, course maintenance manager at Atkinson Country Club and Resort, was dressed in layers to do some snow removal around the club complex Wednesday. (Allegra Boverman/Union Leader)

The average high temperature for this time of year is about 32 degrees, meaning temperatures will be running at least 20 degrees below normal. December has averaged 8 degrees below normal.

“This year we’ve seen a return to the jet stream pattern that we were seeing several years ago,” Sinsabaugh said, adding that the pattern will allow for cold air to pour in from the Arctic Circle.

“That pattern is showing no sign of breaking down, at least through the first week of January,” he said.

Meanwhile, homeless shelters like Cross Roads House in Portsmouth are preparing to help out as many people as possible during the cold snap.

“We really gear up for the entire winter season regardless of how cold it is,” said Martha Stone, Cross Roads House’s executive director.

The shelter has expanded its capacity by adding bunk beds in the men’s dorm.

Stone said the shelter’s typical capacity is 96 beds, but that it’s been over capacity for some time. Last year it was over capacity about 82 percent of the time.

“The demand is high year-round regardless of the weather, but these cold months just exacerbate the problem,” she said.

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