December 14, 2016 / 11:52 AM / 8 months ago

U.S. Northeast braces for arctic air after N.Y. boy dies in snowbank

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Arctic air sweeping through the U.S. Midwest on Wednesday is expected to bring the Northeast the freezing conditions that contributed to the death on Tuesday of an upstate New York boy who became trapped in a snowbank.

Temperatures in Chicago, the country's third-largest city, may plunge to between 13 and 22 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 11 to minus 5 Celsius), at least 10 degrees below normal, the National Weather Service said. The wind chill factor could go as low as minus 15 Fahrenheit, with even lower temperatures expected on Thursday.

"Welcome to the frozen tundra!" Chicago-based meteorologist Tim McGill said on Twitter on Wednesday. "Thursday morning chills could get down to nearly 30 below. #floridasoundsnice."

National Weather Service meteorologist Andrew Orrison said the arctic blast would bring record-low temperatures to parts of the Northeast and mid-Atlantic region on Thursday, with cities from Boston to Washington feeling the chill.

"For these areas, it will be the coldest air of the season so far," Orrison said.

Arctic air spreading from Canada across much of the northern United States this week has led authorities to warn people against frostbite.

A 12-year-old boy died and another was hospitalized on Tuesday after tunnels they were digging in a snowbank collapsed on them in a parking lot in Greenwich, New York, about 40 miles (60 km) north of Albany, authorities said.

People walk by the snow-covered Cloud Gate sculpture (also known as The Bean) in Milennium Park in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., December 13, 2016.Kamil Krzaczynski

Police responding to a call that one of the boys was missing found them after dark and frantically dug them out by hand, said Chief George Bell of the Cambridge-Greenwich Police Department. One boy was unresponsive, and the other was fighting his way out, he said.

Town workers in a truck were moving snow in the lot at the time, Bell said. Police are not sure why the tunnels collapsed and are treating it as an accident, he said.

The second boy has been released from the hospital and is expected to make a full recovery, he said.

The Midwest was expected to experience colder weather than on Tuesday, when the freezing air arrived, Orrison said.

"People certainly, if they're going to be out and about, need to dress warmly and wear multiple layers of clothes," Orrison said.

A few inches of snow could fall on areas around the Great Lakes in Michigan and New York state, he said.

While it will be warmer Friday and Saturday in Chicago, temperatures will plunge again Sunday, when the Chicago Bears professional football team are scheduled to play the Green Bay Packers in a game that could set a new record for the coldest played at Chicago's Soldier Field.

Temperatures are forecast to be between 0 and 16 Fahrenheit on Sunday, according to the NWS. The coldest game played at the stadium was a Dec. 18, 1983 game against the Packers, when it was 3 Fahrenheit with a wind chill of minus 15 Fahrenheit, Bears spokesman Jared Ellerson said.

Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles and David Ingram in New York; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Steve Orlofsky

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