Mount Washington hits 15 below, minus-53 with wind

Posted Jan. 15, 2012, at 2:43 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 15, 2012, at 4:36 p.m.

MOUNT WASHINGTON, N.H. — Northern New England is in the grip of icy temperatures. But if you think it’s cold in the flatlands, try 15 below, and 53-below with the wind, atop New Hampshire’s Mount Washington.

The Mount Washington Observatory reported Sunday it felt like 53.3 degrees below zero with the 54 mph winds gusting on top of the 6,288-foot mountain, New England’s highest.

While dangerously cold, the temperatures didn’t detract from the view, the observatory reported. Under a brilliant sunshine and blue skies, officials said they could see 110 miles in every direction.

Elsewhere in northern New England, the arctic high pressure system dropped temperatures below zero just about everywhere Saturday night, and Sunday night wasn’t expected to get much better, the National Weather Service said. But after all, it’s January in the nation’s far north, which has been spoiled by unseasonably warm temperatures so far this season.

“Given it’s the north, it isn’t as cold as it could be,” said meteorologist Tony Mignone of the weather service’s Caribou bureau in northern Maine, where it was 3 above Sunday afternoon. The single-digit numbers prevailed in much of the region Sunday, but the wind made it feel colder.

The wind was expected to keep the region in the deep freeze through part of Sunday night, but gradually diminish. Then a high sets in Monday that could ratchet temperatures into the 20s in many areas, providing a measure of relief from what people have been used to, Mignone said.

Saturday night in Maine, overnight lows dropped to minus-11 in Frenchville and Greenville, and a bone-numbing 19-below zero in Fryeburg near the New Hampshire border. Portland was minus-1 and Bangor minus-3.

In the Granite State, it hit minus-18 in Berlin, and minus-11 in Lebanon and Whitefield, while Portsmouth lavished in a 2-above reading. And in Vermont, early morning lows Sunday were minus-12 in Morrisville and minus-8 in St. Johnsbury.

The forecast Tuesday into Wednesday calls for snow across much of the region. Forecasters predict light accumulations, and possible rain in some areas.

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