Extreme Cold Forces School Closings, Drives Up Demand At Boston Homeless Shelters

Boston was among a number of school districts to cancel classes Thursday due to the extreme cold that has descended on the state.

"Wind chill temperatures could drop below -20 during morning bus pick up and it is not worth the risk to our children and families," Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said in a statement.

The city will also open all Boston Centers for Youth & Families at 7:30 a.m. Thursday for those who need to get out of the cold. (More cold weather resources from the city of Boston.)

WBUR meteorologist David Epstein forecasts that the cold will peak Thursday morning, when Boston is expected to hit 0 degrees.

"This cold snap will be colder than anything we saw last winter," Epstein wrote in his Wednesday morning forecast, adding that the last time Boston hit 0 degrees was on Jan. 24, 2011.

The extreme cold has also put Boston homeless shelters over capacity.

The Pine Street Inn has 700 beds but had 900 people seeking shelter Tuesday night — need that spokeswoman Barbara Trevisan says is unprecedented.

"We certainly always have additional people in winter months, but given the cold and since the closing of the Long Island shelter, we are all playing a part in taking in additional people," she said.

The city shelter on Long Island, in Boston Harbor, was evacuated after the only bridge to the island was closed due to safety concerns. Hundreds of homeless people were displaced.

The MBTA says it's taking precautions to avoid mechanical failures in the extreme cold.

Overnight, local and commuter rail trains are being stored in tunnels to avoid freezing, and extra employees will work Thursday to deal with any issues that may come up.

Commuter rail operator spokesman Mac Daniel says commuters should check for service alerts during their morning commutes Thursday.

"The worst case scenario would be a canceled train," he said. "That's why we are asking our passengers to stay alert. We don't want to expose them to sub-zero temperatures unnecessarily."

T officials recommend all commuters budget extra time for their journey.

This article was originally published on January 07, 2015.



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