Hong Kong has experienced its coldest day in 59 years at three degrees Celsius.
“It is very cold and windy over Hong Kong. People are advised to put on warm clothes and to avoid prolonged exposure to wintry winds,” read a statement on a city government website.
On Tai Mo Shan, Hong Kong’s tallest mountain, it was 2 degrees Celsius early in the morning, and temperatures kept on dropping to about six degrees below freezing. The fire service had to come to the rescue to treat more than 65 frost chasers and race participants – a 100-KM ultra trail race took place during the night – with symptoms of hypothermia.
Forty five persons were sent to hospital but many were released by the end of the day. Meanwhile many people came to enjoy and experience the ice cold.
Meanwhile, the South Korean island of Jeju has seen its biggest snowfall in three decades, causing hundreds of flights to be canceled.
Jeju is a popular holiday destination and thousands of visitors are reported to have been left stranded.
All 517 flights scheduled for January 24 were canceled, as well as about 60 on January 25, following 4.3in of snow.
In Japan, the Kyodo news agency said five people had died and more than 100 had been injured in weather-related accidents across the country in the past 24 hours.
Transport services continue to be disrupted.
The agency also said it had snowed in Amami Island, a subtropical island 235 miles south-west of Kagoshima City, for the first time in 115 years.
China has issued its second highest weather alert amid the coldest weather in decades.
The state-run People’s Daily said on its Weibo social media account that the city of Guangzhou had recorded its first snowfall since 1929.
A major snowstorm and blizzard-like conditions are expected to affect 100 million people across the Midwest and Northeast.
While the immediate focus was on snow – with up to 10 inches possible in New York City, possibly 18 inches burying New England, and more than 1,800 flights canceled – the cold behind the snowstorm could be crippling.
The high temperature in New York City will be in the teens on Friday during the day and drop to between 5 and 8 degrees in the evening, with the wind chill making it feel well below zero. Lows in Boston will be below zero. Maine could see the mercury drop to minus 30 after dark.
“That is a very, very dangerous set of circumstances,” Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said. He dismissed all state workers at 3 p.m. and urged residents to minimize time outside and be aware of frostbite and hypothermia symptoms.
A second wave of icy weather will hit the nation’s midsection by late Sunday, stretching from the upper Midwest to Kentucky and Tennessee, forecasters said.
Chicago will struggle to get above minus 8 and by Monday morning the wind will make it feel like it’s 40 below zero there.
Blizzard targets Northeast after pounding Midwest
In Green Bay, Wisconsin, where the Packers host an NFL playoff game Sunday evening, the low temperature could reach minus 18.
Larry Wittmers, a hypothermia expert at the University of Minnesota-Duluth medical school, said it’s not necessarily the coldest areas that face the most peril.
“True hypothermia cases turn up more often in more southern regions because people are not prepared and don’t know what to do,” Larry Wittmers said.
How long people can safely spend outside depends on how wet or windy it is and how they are dressed, he said. Shoveling snow or other exercise can be dangerous because sweat reduces the insulation capability of clothing, and consuming alcohol can speed heat loss and reduce awareness of the cold.
And even though record snowfall is not expected, the cold could make roads even more hazardous because the snow-melting homeowners and road crews use loses effectiveness at between 10 and 20 degrees.
Winter storm warnings and advisories were in effect in 22 states, stretched from Chicago through the New York tri-state region into New England and affecting an area home to more than 90 million people.
Flights were being canceled by the hundred at some of the nation’s busiest airports. Five hundred had been scrapped at Newark, LaGuardia and Kennedy; Boston’s last departure was slated for 8:30 p.m.; almost 600 were off the boards at Chicago’s O’Hare, according to FlightAware.
At least 60 deaths are reported in eastern and central Europe due to freezing conditions caused by a cold snap over the last days.
Low temperatures, forcing some countries to deploy the army and set up emergency shelters, is set to continue to Friday, according to forecasters.
Most of the people – at least 30, mostly homeless – have died in Ukraine. Deaths have also been reported in Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, among others.
Temperatures plunged to -20C (-4F) on Monday.
Health officials in Ukraine say nearly 24,000 people have sought refuge in some 1,590 shelters over the past three days.
More than 600 people have sought treatment for frostbite and hypothermia during this time.
The authorities say they are planning to set up 150 more centres, as heavy snow was forecast in the region on Wednesday.
The death toll in Poland over recent days rose to 21 on Tuesday. The Interior Affairs Ministry said some had suffered carbon monoxide poisoning from faulty heaters, according to the Associated Press news agency.
Poland had been having a relatively mild winter, until temperatures dropped last Friday from just below freezing to -26C (-15F).
Malgorzata Wozniak of Poland’s interior ministry said elderly people and the homeless were among the dead, AP reports.
Troops in Romania were deployed last week to rescue those stranded in cars by blizzards
Polish forecasters have warned that temperatures could fall further during the week, to below -20C during the day and -30C at night.
At least eight people have died in Romania and five in Bulgaria.
Troops in Romania were deployed last week to rescue those stranded in cars by blizzards.
In Serbia, police reported that the snowy conditions had led to the deaths of a woman and two elderly men. Two other men, in their 70’s, are believed to be missing in the south of the country.
Reports say there were also deaths in Lithuania, Bosnia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.