John Bender / RIPR

When businesses shut down during winter storms, residents looking for a hot meal can be left in the cold. Unless you happen to live in Newport.

John Bender / RIPR

Many public schools remained closed for a second day, as residents continued the work of digging out from the snowstorm that pummeled Rhode Island and the South Coast on Thursday. In New Bedford, officials warned that a deep freeze could cause more problems.

Lynn Arditi / RIPR

The normally bustling docks along New Bedford harbor were practically deserted Tuesday as an arctic cold front kept some boats off the water.

John Bender / RIPR

Yes, it’s frigid outside. It’s New England, and it's winter. But this week’s cold weather is breaking records. The National Weather Service confirmed that a 14-degree high on Thursday broke the previous record cold temperature, set in 1976.

John Bender / RIPR

Even as homeless shelters swell over capacity, social service workers are scrambling to get more people off the streets and out of the bitter cold.

Shelters Fill Up As Temperatures Drop

Dec 28, 2017
National Weather Service

New England faced a cold and blustery start to the day on Thursday, with temperatures just barely crawling out of the single digits, and the sun doing its best to warm the frozen ground. 

According to the National Weather Service, the wind chill in Providence measured as low as 10 degrees Fahrenheit in some areas.

Not since 2014’s so-called polar vortex has the state seen such sustained frigid temperatures. According to meteorologists, the culprit this time is a blast of arctic air hitting the East Coast.

“This appears to be the coldest air mass for the last four or five years,” said National Weather spokesman Bill Simpson. “It’ll probably be an extended period of cold air, probably breaking by next week. So we’re looking at well, well below our normal temperatures.”

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Rhode Island won’t have many peaches on local fruit stands this summer. Cold temperatures in February killed most of the flowers on the state’s peach trees. University of Rhode Island plant scientist Heather Faubert said this year, the peach trees didn’t have time to adjust to the cold.

“The very cold temperatures came all of a sudden,” said Faubert. “Throughout November and December and January it was quite warm, and then we got to February and the temperatures dropped suddenly and that’s what killed the crop.”

Temperatures broke records across southern New England, as the mercury plunged to subzero levels. In Providence it hit -9 degrees Fahrenheit Sunday during the early morning hours; breaking the previous record of -7 set in 1979, according to the National Weather Service.

The deep freeze is expected to break this week in Rhode Island. Temperatures will hover in the twenties across most of the state, and are expected to climb above freezing along the coast.

Temperatures will reach 50 degrees on Tuesday, which will feel practically balmy, after the harsh weekend.

Arctic temperatures are heading our way. The National Weather Service has issued a wind chill warning for Rhode Island, lasting through the weekend. Temperatures are forecast to plunge as low as 30 degrees below zero with the wind chill.

A cold front moving south from the upper Arctic is the reason for the falling temperatures, which are expected to reach the twenties on Friday before plunging into the teens and eventually single digits over the weekend.

National Weather Service meteorologist Alan Dunham said the air will feel even colder thanks to subzero wind chills.

It’s the first day of Spring, but don’t put away your winter coat just yet.  After a brutal January and February, more snow is predicted today. National Weather Service meteorologist William Babcock said it’s expected to start late this afternoon.

"It could become a factor for the evening commute for parts of the state.  Possibly Providence, better shot in spots like Newport and Westerly," said Babcock.

Yet more snow is on the way for Rhode Island.  The national weather service expects about one to three inches of snow starting late Tuesday afternoon.  

The snow is predicted to switch over to a wintry mix by midnight, lasting into Wednesday morning. Meteorologist Benjamin Sipprell said this could affect the Wednesday morning commute.

“As we go into Wednesday morning, temperatures will be pretty well above normal, so the expectation is for the morning commute, it may be a little soupy out there with very low visibility along area roadways,” said Sipprell.

Rhode Islanders are in for another arctic blast starting Friday.  Temperatures plunged into the single digits, and the National Weather Service says things will only warm up to the high teens through the weekend.

Meteorologist Mathew Belk, said wind chills will make temperatures feel far below zero. “Wind chills are going to be generally in the minus fifteen to minus 24 range, so it’s going to feel pretty chilly out there,” said Belk. 

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

Despite the recent stream of bitterly cold temperatures, Rhode Island’s Low Income Heating Assistance Program still has plenty of money for the cold months to come.

Rhode Island received about $27 million dollars in federal assistance to support the program this year.  LIHEAP, as it’s known, helps some 34 thousand households pay for heating costs throughout the winter. 

Yet another winter storm has blanketed Rhode Island in snow.  This weekend saw more than a foot of the white stuff fall in areas including North Providence, Burrilville and Warren.  Residents are now dealing with arctic temperatures.