Arctic Blast Sweeps Across America, Claims 12 Lives; Record Breaking Cold Wave Hits Deep South

More than 3,100 flights were canceled on Monday, affecting travel plans for thousands, several schools closed.

A large part of United States is dealing with relentless and prolonged arctic blast, that is wreaking havoc across the country, even reaching previously unaffected southern and eastern regions. Simultaneously, the South is grappling with relentless snowfall, ice accumulation, and strong winds.

Des Moines experienced its coldest Iowa caucuses on record this Monday, with the highest temperature barely reaching one degree Fahrenheit. Statewide, temperatures were a staggering 25 to 30 degrees below normal for this time of year, posing a severe threat with frigid wind chills capable of causing frostbite in as little as 10 minutes on exposed skin.

Arctic blast in USA

Over 140 daily cold records are poised to be shattered from Oregon to Mississippi on Monday and Tuesday, with cities like Memphis, Dallas, and Nashville expected to endure freezing temperatures for at least 72 consecutive hours. This contributes to an unprecedented 80% of the US experiencing below-freezing temperatures.

Back-to-back severe storms have claimed the lives of at least twelve people across Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Shelby County, including Memphis, reported one weather-related death. Oregon also recorded two weather-related deaths over the weekend.

Snow, sleet, and freezing rain have created hazardous road conditions across the southern and central US. Fatal accidents in Arkansas and Mississippi highlight the perilous travel conditions. The wintry mix is forecasted to persist from Texas through the Lower Mississippi Valley into parts of the Tennessee Valley and Southern Appalachians, prompting the National Weather Service to advise the public to have a cold survival kit if travel is unavoidable.

Over 100 million people in the US are under wind chill alerts, stretching from the Canadian to the Mexican border. Breezy winds are contributing to life-threatening wind chills, reaching as low as minus 45 in South Dakota. Wind chills of 30 degrees below zero are expected from the Northern Rockies to northern Kansas and into Iowa.

As Texas battles freezing temperatures, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has urged energy conservation, anticipating tight grid conditions. Government agencies have been asked to reduce energy usage until at least Tuesday morning.

Snow is expected to make a comeback in big cities like Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and New York City, ending their long snowless streaks of over 700 days.

More than 3,100 flights were canceled on Monday, affecting travel plans for thousands. Additionally, schools in several states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia, have announced closures due to the frigid temperatures.

Winter weather alerts cover more than 70 million people over 1,400 miles, from the Texas-Mexico border to southern New York. The storm brings snow from Oklahoma to Virginia, with ice accumulating in southern regions.

Snow totals of 2 to 4 inches have been reported from Oklahoma through Tennessee and Kentucky, with higher accumulations in some areas. Freezing rain and sleet have created a glaze of ice on roadways from Texas to Mississippi. Memphis, typically snow-free, saw 3 to 6 inches of snow by Monday afternoon.

As the arctic blast progresses, numerous cold daily records have already been broken across the central US. Kansas City, Missouri, witnessed a temperature drop to minus 3 degrees on Sunday, smashing a previous record set in 1979.

Oregon is still grappling with the aftermath of a potent winter storm that left widespread power outages due to ice accumulation and damaging winds. Over 90,000 homes and businesses remain without power as strong winds persist.

The storm is expected to clear the South by late Tuesday, leaving a trail of challenges and recovery efforts in its wake.