Bitterly cold temperatures grip the state - WFSB 3 Connecticut

WEATHER ALERT

Bitterly cold temperatures grip the state

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HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -

A wind chill advisory remained in place for parts of the state Friday.

Hartford, Tolland, Windham and northern Litchfield counties have the advisory in place until 9 a.m., according to Chief Meteorologist Bruce DePrest.

An arctic cold front moved off to the east of the state Thursday night and a gusty northwesterly wind ushered in much colder air, DePrest said.

Temperatures dropped to between zero and 10 degrees Friday morning.

"Northwesterly winds will gust to between 30 and 40 miles per hour," said DePrest. "And that means the wind chill reading will go well below zero to dangerously cold levels."

Wind chill temperatures ranged from 5 below to 20 below zero.

"Needless to say, you will really have to bundle up with the heavy winter gear (Friday) morning," said DePrest.

Friday was forecasted to be sunny, but still blustery cold. Highs could only range from the teens in the Litchfield Hills to the low and mid 20s elsewhere, according to DePrest.

"Winds will drop off Friday night as high pressure moves directly over New England," DePrest explained. "And that means another cold night with temperatures ranging from 10 below zero to 10 above."

Temperatures could sneak above freezing on Saturday, DePrest forecasted.

Meteorologist Scot Haney said Friday marked the end of the meteorological winter.

"The average temperature at Bradley International Airport will come in at less than 26.5 degrees, and it will rank among the top 30 coldest winters on record," said Haney.

He said that's impressive considering official records date back 109 years.

"The coldest winter on record was 1917-1918," Haney said, "when the average temperature for December, January, and February was 21.2 degrees."

Shelters nearly reach capacity

Gov. Dannel Malloy urged anyone in need of a place to stay warm to call 211, and asked cities and towns to consider opening warming centers or additional shelters.

Michael Burrill of Middletown told Eyewitness News that his life is in a single bag, so these shelters are literally life-saving.

"You'll probably lose a lot of folks," he said in reference to the chilly temperatures.

Burrill said he spent nearly every winter night at a warming center at the South Church in Middletown. He said he chooses that one because the Red Cross shelter in the city can fill up fast.

"I'd say 30 max," Burrill said.

Shelter workers said despite the free warmth, many of the homeless do not come, so police make rounds at popular homeless areas. Officers then bring those people to the centers.

"This is a lifeline for many of them," said Ron Krom, director of the South Church warming center. "These are the folks who for whatever reason, don't end up in the shelter. These are the folks who would be on the streets, on heat vents if we weren't open tonight."

The city of New Britain was having its police officers keep an eye out for anyone in the conditions, and urged those who they do find to seek shelter.

An emergency "no freeze" shelter has been opened to offer extra space to those who need it.

"(We're) staying on the line for as long as it takes to make sure families and individuals have a place to stay in the cold," said the New Britain shelter coordinator.

For more information on shelters, visit the 211 website here.

Officials also stress for people to keep their pets inside, and never use your oven to heat your home.

Read the full forecast discussion here.

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