Region braces for brutal cold

Published: Feb. 2, 2023 at 5:14 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 2, 2023 at 5:20 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Brutally cold weather is expected to hit the region early Friday, causing life-threatening conditions through the first part of the weekend.

The National Weather Service has issued Wind Chill Watches for most of our region from early Friday through Saturday afternoon, with wind chills reaching upwards of wind chills as low as 45 below zero.

Cold weather is nothing new for New Englanders, but with wind chills potentially reaching more than 40 below zero, authorities are urging extreme safety over the next 48 hours. But for those who can’t shelter inside, officials say there are many resources available. “We won’t turn anyone away. Anyone’s welcome,” said Sarah Russell with the City of Burlington’s Community & Economic Development Office.

After experiencing unusually warm weather for much of the winter, state and local officials are gearing up for the dangerous cold snap. “These are dangerous temperatures. If you don’t need to be out in these temperatures, stay inside,” said Vermont State Police Lt. Paul Ravelin.

But while meteorologists and state officials are urging Vermonters to stay inside, not everyone can. “I’ve been homeless for quite a few years, living outside kind of on the outside in a tent,” said Brent Laberge, who added that he made a stove out of a charcoal grill.

In response to the dangerous conditions, Burlington is among communities making food and shelter more accessible. “The city has opened -- in partnership with the state and the Red Cross-- an extreme cold weather shelter. That will be starting tonight at five o’clock. We’ll be open until 8 a.m. tomorrow {Friday} morning and then open again from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. Saturday. We also have extended hours at the Community Resource Center so there won’t be any gaps,” Russell said. Vermonters in need of heating assistance or shelter can also call 211.

“I’m probably gonna see how it is, just to see how the environment is and check it out,” Laberge said.

The Vermont State Police will be providing ‘freeze patrols’ on the Interstates. “We’ll have troopers from barracks traveling the length of the Interstate -- both interstate 89 and 91 -- throughout the entirety of the night, to ensure that there are not any stranded motorists. They’ll be rendering assistance as quickly as possible,” Ravelin said.

Vermont Emergency Management officials have a list of tips to remember to keep safe:

  • Check on older neighbors who might need assistance to make sure they have heat.
  • Limit outdoor activities. Excessive exposure can lead to frostbite and hypothermia can occur in extreme cases.
  • Make sure you have sufficient heating fuel, including wood.
  • Keep blankets or a sleeping bag in your vehicle in the event you are stranded.
  • Dress in several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight clothing, rather than a single layer of heavy clothing.

Related Stories:

Ski resorts to suspend lift operations during cold snap

Warming shelters open up across Vermont as temperatures drop

Officials urge caution ahead of extreme cold

As Vt. braces for brutal cold, vets caution to ‘bring the pets inside’

2023 Penguin Plunge cancels outdoor event, goes remote