'Warmer' temperatures are hard to notice for those working outside
A slight increase in temperature was little comfort to people working outside in the frigid conditions Thursday.
"It's brutal," said Sam Wehbe as he pumped gas at the corner of Webster and Chestnut streets at Manchester's Tony the Tiger station, which is full-service. The high of 17 degrees didn't feel any better than the 12 degrees the day before, especially when the wind picked up in the afternoon.
Wehbe was dressed in about six layers of clothing, including ski pants, two hooded sweatshirts, a down vest and a wool hat as he tried to survive the 10-hour shift he started around 6 a.m.
"Just dress warm," he said, outlining his survival strategy as more customers pulled up to the pump.
Chris Legro, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine, said temperatures could approach normal again by Monday or Tuesday, but the Granite State can expect the deep freeze to continue.
"It is significantly colder than normal for this time of year," Legro said.
The North Country has another night of temperatures in the minus-20 range, then a marginal "improvement" Saturday and Sunday when overnight lows are expected to reach about minus-10, Legro said.
Temperatures on the Seacoast are expected to range from 10 degrees to highs around 20. Manchester could reach the mid- to upper-20s, with Concord a few degrees cooler. Nashua and southern New Hampshire are the warm spots, where temperatures could approach 30 over the weekend.
The conditions are frigid - even for New England in January - especially for those who have no choice but to brave the cold.
Ray and Karen Bienvenue of Allenstown have been New Hampshire Union Leader carriers for years and have delivery routes in Pembroke. Ray said the cold is preferable to snow and ice, but his route Thursday morning was one of the coldest he could remember, with the outdoor temperature monitor in his Jeep Grand Cherokee reaching minus-9.
"We couldn't go from stop to stop without rolling up our windows. We can generally go two or three stops, often longer," he said. "We were cranking it up and down every stop."
Manchester crossing guard Jeff Plourde was doing what he could to stay warm at his post along Beech Street and Lake Avenue as school let out Thursday afternoon, ducking out of the wind behind a building.
"It could be better, but I'm well-dressed. That's the key," said Plourde, wearing a pair of wool mittens so big they looked like boxing gloves.
Plourde said no matter how cold it gets, he will be more comfortable than he was at his previous post at Bridge and Highland streets next to Derryfield Park, where there was no shelter from the wind.
"It was like Siberia there," he said.
Legro said another cold snap appears to be headed this way by the middle of next week.
"Long-range models can certainly change and bounce around a little bit," he said. "But I think chances are looking good that we could roll into February on the colder side of things."