An intense Arctic cold snap is ushering in unprecedented low temperatures and perilous wind chills across a vast expanse of the United States, accompanied by the southward spread of snow and ice from the Southern states to New England. Additionally, a looming storm poses a new threat to the Northwest, with the potential for hazardous icy conditions. Here are the latest developments:
Snow Miracle in the City
Snowless streaks come to an end: New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, DC, saw enough snowfall to break nearly two-year-long streaks without at least an inch of snow. This phenomenon hadn’t occurred in over 700 days in any of these locations. Record-setting streaks were broken in Baltimore, New York, Philadelphia, and at Dulles International Airport in the DC area.
Deep Freeze Alert!
Unprecedented cold temperatures: Almost 80% of the U.S. is set to experience below-freezing temperatures over the coming week as another surge of cold air sweeps across the nation by the end of the week. Numerous daily cold records have already been shattered, particularly in Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Unusual snowfall reached as far south as Mobile, Alabama, and Pensacola, Florida, on Tuesday morning, prompting rare snow-related activities. The Gulf Coast, from Texas to Florida, is under hard freeze warnings for Tuesday evening. Memphis, Dallas, and Nashville are anticipating temperatures below freezing for at least 72 consecutive hours.
Immediate Frostbite Risk: Life-Threatening Wind Chills
Immediate frostbite risk: The Rockies, Great Plains, and Midwest are facing life-threatening sub-zero wind chills until Wednesday, with Northern Plains experiencing wind chills as low as minus 30 degrees. The National Weather Service issued a warning that exposed skin could suffer frostbite within minutes, followed by the onset of hypothermia shortly thereafter.
Rising Death Toll
Rising death toll: At least 12 deaths have been reported across several states, including Arkansas, Oregon, Mississippi, Kansas, and Tennessee, since January 12, as successive winter storms unleash hazardous wind, ice, and snow. A fatal accident in Arkansas involved a pickup truck skidding off a snowy White County highway and colliding with a tree, resulting in one death and one injury, according to state police.
Treacherous Travel Conditions
Treacherous travel conditions: Icy roads have made travel perilous in several southern states, with accidents on the slick I-10 in southern Louisiana causing the closure of a substantial stretch of the highway in both directions on Tuesday morning. Transportation authorities are urging people to stay home and off the roads as they grapple with the challenging conditions. Tennessee reported “hundreds” of travel incidents on Monday, according to the state’s Department of Transportation.
Flight Disruptions: Over 10,000 Cancellations
Flight cancellations top 10,000: The transportation havoc resulting from the prolonged winter weather extends beyond roads, with over 10,000 flights canceled since Friday, according to FlightAware data. Although most cancellations on Tuesday were concentrated in the East due to the active storm, the flight disruptions stretch as far west as Denver.
School and Government Closures
School and government closures: Frigid temperatures prompted school closures in more than half a dozen states, including Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, and West Virginia. Washington, DC, federal government offices closed due to weather conditions for the first time since January 7, 2022.
As bone-chilling temperatures persist across much of the U.S., affecting over 95 million people in 35-plus states under winter weather alerts, snow and freezing rain from the South are advancing into the mid-Atlantic, Northeast, and New England through Tuesday.
Downwind of the Great Lakes, heavy lake effect snowfall is anticipated, causing significant travel disruptions. Buffalo, New York, is under a lake effect snow warning with the possibility of 1 to 3 feet of heavy snowfall and gusts up to 40 mph. Watertown is also under a winter storm watch with the potential for 2 to 3 feet of heavy lake effect snowfall. The National Weather Service in Buffalo has warned of difficult to impossible travel conditions, with areas of blowing snow significantly reducing visibility and impacting Wednesday’s morning and evening commutes.