Facing High EEE Risk Levels, Mass. Communities Await First Frost


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BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — The threat of mosquito-borne Eastern Equine Encephalitis, or EEE, has spread from the Berkshires to Cape Cod—with 35 cities and towns posting critical risk levels and more than 120 posting at least moderate levels.

That's why communities across the Commonwealth are clinging to hopes of an early first frost. That frost could be the only sure-fire solution to the problem, slowing down virus-carrying mosquitoes.

To see which areas are currently under high EEE risk, click here.

But WBZ-TV Executive Weather Producer Terry Eliasen tells WBZ NewsRadio's Chris Fama that, depending upon your zip code, your community may need to wait for some relief.

"It's kind of a gradual process," Eliasen said. "Typically first week of October in places like northern Worcester County, Western Mass, second week of October closer to the 495 belt, Lowell to Marlborough, third week of October down toward 128, and it doesn't reach Boston typically until late October or early November."

Signs And Symptoms Of EEE To Look Out For  - Thumbnail Image

Signs And Symptoms Of EEE To Look Out For

He says current models show the first frost could come as soon as October 5.

"If we do miss that first window of opportunity for frost, it could be several more weeks before we actually get cold for good, which would be mid-to-late October," Eliasen said.

Complicating matters, this Autumn is off to a scorching start.

"September has actually been quite warm compared to average," he said. "The last week or so, we've averaged 10, 12 degrees above average per day."

That warm weather is helping to keep the EEE threat alive, State Epidemiologist Dr. Catherine Brown said in a Department of Public Health release Thursday afternoon.

“Although mosquito populations are declining, the weather is keeping them active,” Brown said. "We continue to emphasize the need for people to protect themselves from mosquito bites.”

Eliasen says there are signs of potential relief.

"Those beautiful, sunny, 70-degree days followed by the chilly nights? It may not seem like we're getting close to a frost, but you're going to be seeing more changes," he said. "I think by the end of next week, the main headline is going to be, who's going to get 32 degrees and for how long, and will the mosquitoes be going away? And I think that's our first real chance of getting a frost in a lot of the 'burbs."

WBZ NewsRadio's Chris Fama (@CFamaWBZ) reports

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