Winter storm: Brutal arctic blast blanketing much of the US is set to deliver record low


A brutal and prolonged arctic blast  bringing heavy snow, wind and ice across much of the US is threatening record-breaking low temperatures and dangerous morning commutes as another storm takes aim at the South. Here’s the latest:

About 79% of US to see below freezing temperatures: Over 140 daily cold records could be broken Monday and Tuesday from Oregon to Mississippi, as temperatures in Memphis, Dallas and Nashville are expected to stay below freezing for at least 72 consecutive hours. The coldest Iowa caucuses on record are forecast Monday, with below-zero high temperatures and wind chills in the minus 30s expected.

Dangerous Monday morning commutes: Combined with the cold, the slick wintry precipitation won’t melt on untreated surfaces for the Monday morning commute in places like Dallas and Shreveport, Louisiana, making travel more dangerous. Accumulating ice is expected from Texas through the Lower Mississippi Valley into parts of the Tennessee Valley and Southern Appalachians. “Have a cold survival kit if you must travel,” the National Weather Service said.

Life-threatening wind chills: About 100 million people are under wind chill alerts as sub-zero wind chills sweep across much of the US and reach into the South. Winds of 10 to 25 mph could cause life-threatening wind chills that could cause frostbite on exposed skin in as little as 30 minutes. In South Dakota, wind chills as low as -45 can cause frostbite in as little as 5 minutes. Wind chills of 30 degrees below zero are expected from the Northern Rockies to northern Kansas and into Iowa.

Blinding snow squalls and lake-effect snow in Northeast: Snow squalls are possible across the Northeast. On Sunday, serious lake-effect snow was ongoing in Buffalo and strong winds were still kicking up snow and affecting travel in the Midwest.

Texas’s vulnerable power grid: As Texas shivers under the freezing cold, ERCOT, which manages 90% of the state’s electric load, asked Texans to conserve electricity use Monday as it “expects tight grid conditions.” Dallas could see up to one quarter inch of sleet and up to one tenth of an inch of ice accumulations.

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At least four states – Kentucky, Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana – declared emergencies as the storm swept through the country, threatening frigid cold temperatures.

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves issued a state of emergency Sunday to support response and recovery efforts, according to a news release from the governor’s office.

“All Mississippians in the impacted areas are encouraged to take precautions over the next few days. Prepare your homes now for below-freezing temperatures, bring pets inside, and check in with your loved ones who are most susceptible during this frigid weather,” the release said.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear also declared a state of emergency for his state Sunday evening as the winter storm was set to hit the region.

“We continue to ask Kentuckians to stay weather-aware as snow accumulation and below-freezing temperatures continue to sweep through the commonwealth,” Beshear said in a news release.

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Winter weather alerts spread over 1,400 miles from parts of the Texas-Mexico border to central Virginia, with 60 million people are under winter storm alerts.

The storm will lay down a coating of snow between 2 and 6 inches from Oklahoma to Virginia, just north of where the heaviest ice will fall.

Memphis, which has had no measurable snow so far this year, is forecast to see between 3 and 7 inches.

Snow accumulations of 1 to 3 inches are also expected from Oklahoma City through Tulsa. Nearly the entire state of Arkansas is expected to see at least 3 inches, with some locations picking up as much as 6 inches total. Snowfall accumulations of 3 to 5 inches are expected for Nashville and Knoxville, Tennessee.

Jeffrey T. Barnes/AP

Workers remove snow from Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park, New York, on Sunday.

Heavy snow was expected over parts of the Central Rockies into Monday evening, and lake-effect snow was expected to persist downwind from the Great Lakes through Tuesday, according to the weather service.

“The prolonged nature of this event could result in moderate to major potential winter storm impacts over parts of Arkansas, northwest Mississippi and western Tennessee,” the Weather Prediction Center said.

Already, numerous cold daily records have been broken across the central US as the arctic blast moved toward the southern US. In Kansas City, Missouri, the temperature dropped to -3 degrees Sunday – smashing a previous record of 0 degrees set in 1979.

The storm will clear the South by late Tuesday and could then track into the mid-Atlantic and Northeast, increasing snow chances there by Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Oregon is still cleaning up after a potent winter storm accumulated three-quarters of an inch of ice in some cities and damaging winds resulted in widespread power outages over the weekend. Over 111,000 homes and businesses were without power Sunday night, according to the tracking site

At least two weather-related deaths were reported in the Portland area over the weekend, according to officials.

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