Severe winter weather threatens to bring record low temperatures to the heart of the United States

Severe winter weather threatens to bring record low temperatures to the heart of the United States

O’FALLON, Mo. >> A long weekend of extreme winter weather loomed across the U.S. on Saturday, as a sustained wave of Arctic storms threatened to break low-temperature records in the heart of the country, spreading hail and snow from coast to coast and It casts chills on everything from the football playoffs to presidential campaigns.

As the three-day Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend began, the U.S. weather forecast was a crazy array of color-coded warnings, from an ice storm warning in Oregon to a blizzard warning in the northern Plains, and… From strong winds. In New Mexico and flood warnings in the mid-Atlantic.

The repercussions of the storm included the stoppage of 100 vehicles on Interstate 80 in Iowa, after semi-trailers collided with the slippery road and blocked traffic. Some cars remained stuck in the same place for five hours as falling snow surrounded the vehicles. Tow trucks had to be brought in to get them out of the way.

“Many roads were closed,” Sgt. Alex Dinkla of the Iowa State Patrol said. “They (road crews) are clearing snow like crazy to open up some roads, but they’re actually struggling. The minute they open, they’re actually blowing backwards because of the high winds we’re seeing right now.”

Temperatures in parts of Montana dropped to below 30 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 34 degrees Celsius) Saturday morning, and the National Weather Service said temperatures were expected to reach minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 46 degrees Celsius) in the Dakotas.

“It’s definitely been very active across a lot of the country. We’ve now had multiple storms in a row” across the country, said Zach Taylor, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. He said this usually happens at least twice a winter. In the United States, we are at the heart of the matter.

Governors from New York to Louisiana warned residents to prepare. Some states had already reported weather-related deaths earlier this week due to avalanches in California and Idaho and exposure to the cold in the Chicago suburbs of Illinois. In Wisconsin, a man died due to snow in his home.

Hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses were without power Saturday morning, especially in Michigan and Wisconsin, according to poweroutage.us. In Illinois, officials pleaded with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to stop sending migrants to Chicago, where city-run shelters were full and some new arrivals were staying in parked “warming buses.” Abbott declined, while urging Texans to prepare for the cold with ice on the way Monday.

In St. Louis, the National Weather Service warned of a rare and “life-threatening” cold snap.

In Iowa, an electronic billboard showed the temperature at 3 degrees Fahrenheit (-16 degrees Celsius below zero) on Saturday morning in the capital, Des Moines.

Des Moines resident Katie Baker, 26, and her fiancé, Dalton Gustafson, 30, had hoped to travel to Florida on a trip to celebrate their engagement and Baker’s birthday on Jan. 16. They got snowed in, but they will try again on Sunday.

“We’ll trade the dusty snow for some sandy beaches,” Baker said.

“Negative 20 to 80 degrees — 100 degree fluctuation in temperature,” Gustafson added.

The air temperature in parts of the state could drop to minus 14 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 26 degrees Celsius) on Monday, when the Iowa caucuses kick off the US presidential primary season. And that said nothing about the wind: Forecasters said it would be Wednesday before the below-zero wind gusts disappeared.

Republican contenders Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley and former President Donald Trump canceled campaign events over the weekend due to the winter storm.

Plow operators in Iowa struggled Saturday to keep roads clear amid heavy snow and winds of up to 30 mph (48 kph), sending snow back onto the roads once cleared. The Iowa Department of Transportation has warned against traveling through the state.

Dinkla said forces had responded to 86 accidents and assisted 535 drivers since Friday. Most of the aid was to help parked cars and trucks break down. Fifteen people were injured in accidents. In one wreck on an icy interstate highway, a semitrailer collided with a state patrol car, virtually destroying it. The soldier escaped injury.

Even snow-free roads are not safe.

“The thing we’re seeing is people think the roads are clear in a lot of areas, but they’re not able to slow down because the roads are a layer of ice,” Dinkla said.

In South Dakota, the air temperature Saturday morning was minus 17 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 27 degrees Celsius) on the Crow Creek Sioux Reservation, but strong winds of 30 mph (48 km/h) made it feel like – 48 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 44 degrees Celsius). With a homeless shelter already in place, tribal leaders opened a gym for others in need of shelter.

Near-record cold in Kansas City will bring a frigid NFL playoff game on Saturday night, when the Chiefs host Miami. Fans will be allowed to bring blankets and first aid stations have been set up at Arrowhead Stadium. The Buffalo Bills’ playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers has been postponed from Sunday to Monday due to hazardous weather conditions.

Justin Arnott, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Maine, said coastal areas in southern Maine and New Hampshire received 2.5 to 5 centimeters of rain on Saturday morning, leading to some roads being flooded. Portland, Maine, is also bracing for flooding from a possible record high tide early in the afternoon, he said.


Peltz reported from New York. Associated Press writers Julie Walker in New York, Ed White in Detroit, Nick Perry in Meredith, New Hampshire, and Nathan Elgren in Des Moines, Iowa, contributed.


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