A big chunk of the U.S. is getting a blast of wintry weather. Some areas are experiencing frigid temperatures. Some are seeing sleet, snow and ice. Several deaths have been reported, most resulting from treacherous driving conditions. Hundreds of flights have been canceled and holiday celebrations curtailed. Even one outdoor ice rink in cold-accustomed South Dakota is shutting down.
A storm rolling in over the weekend will keep northern Arizona in the grips of freezing temperatures, bringing more snow and making travel a little tricky.
Phoenix residents could see a dusting of snow in the surrounding mountains. Several inches of snow could fall in the higher terrain.
The cold weather is normal for this time of year, but the duration of chilly temperatures that will dip below zero in some parts of northern Arizona is what makes the recent and upcoming days “on the cold end of normal,” said David Blanchard, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Flagstaff.
Tucson street crews were busy Thursday preparing for the weather by coating about 70 bridge decks with magnesium chloride to keep ice from sticking to roadways.
Wintry weather prompted schools, businesses and government agencies to shutter their doors Friday as icy weather pelted the state ahead of a cold snap expected to last for days.
Gov. Mike Beebe declared a statewide emergency, making it easier for crews to repair expected damage to trees and power lines. Only essential state personnel were expected to report for duty in Little Rock. More than 37,000 homes and businesses were without power and utilities warned customers that the outages could last for up to a week.
An ice storm warning issued by the National Weather Service in North Little Rock was to last until 6 p.m. Friday. Cold air following the storm was forecast to drop temperatures below zero in parts of northern Arkansas as bitter cold stretches across the state into next week.
Coloradans braced for another round of snow this weekend as blistering cold temperatures continue across the state.
The weather service issued a winter storm watch through Sunday for the Western Slope. Forecasters say up to a foot more of snow is expected in the mountains. Temperatures ranged from 26 degrees below zero in Walden to 13 above in Cortez, with several communities on the Eastern Plains warming up to 10 degrees above zero.
In Grand Junction, the Parade of Lights has never been canceled due to weather and they are not planning on changing anything this year. But parade sponsors say some high school marching bands have backed out because of the danger of putting cold instruments to lips.
Some organizations in the Dakotas canceled holiday events, and one city decided it was even too cold for ice skating.
A “Christmas at the Zoo” fundraising event in the North Dakota city of Minot and “Parade of Lights” events in the South Dakota cities of Yankton and Sturgis were among those called off. Many schools announced late starts, and officials in Rapid City, S.D., shut down an outdoor ice rink.
The National Weather Service posted advisories for the two states saying wind chills could make the temperature feel as low as 40 degrees below zero into the weekend.
Snow blanketed parts of southern Illinois early Friday with forecasters warning of more than a foot by the time a winter storm warning expires for the state in the evening.
The weather service in Paducah, Ky. also cautioned that the region should also expect up to a quarter inch of ice. A winter storm warning remained in effect until 6 p.m.
WSIL-TV reported that Illinois State Police responded to dozens of accidents.
Several inches of snow fell on central and southern Indiana, making driving treacherous and leading to at least two fatal crashes.
A car driver was killed in a crash with an out-of-control semi on Interstate 70 in eastern Indiana’s Wayne County late Thursday, state police said. A woman died in a four-vehicle crash on U.S. 40 near Terre Haute.
The roads proved even too hazardous for a Department of Transportation plow truck that flipped onto its side on Indiana 45 early Friday, the Greene County Sheriff’s Department said.
Weather service meteorologist Chad Swain said up to 5 inches more of snow could fall later Friday in the southern half of the state.
The weather service issued winter storm warnings for western and central Kentucky through early Saturday, while eastern Kentucky had a flood watch in effect. Some parts of the state were expecting single-digit temperatures Friday night.
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet maintenance crews were out treating roadways early Friday in anticipation of the winter weather, and multiple school districts called off classes.
Cold temperatures and snow were expected in Michigan into next week. The lowest readings Friday morning were in the Upper Peninsula, including zero degrees in Ironwood and 1 degree in Iron Mountain.
Forecasters said lake-effect snow was possible in the U.P. and parts of western Michigan. Snow and freezing rain could make travel difficult.
Gale warnings were in effect Friday for Lake Superior, with waves expected to be 18 feet to as high as 27 feet.
The storm dumped as much as 2 feet of snow in parts of Minnesota, forcing school closures and temporary power outages and delighting skiers who were hitting the slopes despite temperatures in the single digits Thursday.
The Spirit Mountain ski area in Duluth, Minn. welcomed the heavy snowfall, which helped turn the slopes into a party. Attendees included students from the University of Minnesota Duluth and other colleges who were given Wednesday off.
While college classes resumed Thursday, Duluth-area elementary and high schools remained closed. Temperatures were in the single digits above zero Thursday morning and were forecast to slowly fall all day on their way to subzero overnight lows for at least the next few days.
Most of southern Missouri was under winter weather warnings, with up to 8 inches of snow possible by Friday evening.
Even more problematic: Sleet and freezing rain accumulations of up to a quarter-inch were expected in areas south of Interstate 44 in addition to the snow, creating a strong potential for downed power lines and very slick driving conditions.
“Certainly power outages are going to be a real threat,” said Scott Truett, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in St. Louis. As for driving, snow on top of ice “is a very bad combination,” Truett said.
Adding to Missouri’s woes was the frigid cold. Highs were mostly expected to reach only into the 20s or low 30s, a sharp decline from highs in the 60s in many places just 24 hours earlier. St. Louis reached 69 degrees on Wednesday; afternoon temperatures on Thursday were 40 degrees colder.
Temperatures plunged to minus 11 in Helena, where a frozen pipe burst and flooded part of the Montana State Capitol building Thursday morning.
There was minor flooding in the cafeteria, media rooms and some bathrooms, although most of the building remained open for business and public meetings as workers dried the soaked areas.
The cold snap Thursday set or matched record low temperatures in parts of Montana, including minus 26 in Great Falls. Denton also set a record at minus 23 Thursday morning and Havre’s minus 27 reading matched a record that has stood since 1936.
The cold snap is expected to last through the weekend.
In northern Nevada, Carson City Sheriff Ken Furlong said extreme cold was likely what killed a 53-year-old transient who was found dead behind a convenience store Thursday.
Carson City’s high temperature hasn’t exceeded 25 for two days, according to the National Weather Service.
In northeast Nevada, the low Thursday reached a record 23 below zero in Ely, near the Utah line. A hard freeze warning remained in effect as far south as Las Vegas until 9 a.m. Friday.
Forecasters warned that New Jersey drivers could face slippery conditions over the weekend as a wintry mix of snow and sleet moved into the state beginning Sunday.
A storm system that swept through parts of New Mexico on Thursday dumped up to 6 inches of snow across the state, closing some schools and causing dangerous driving conditions and traffic accidents, including one that critically injured a sheriff’s sergeant.
New Mexico State Police say Sandoval County sheriff’s Sgt. Robert Baron, 47, was transported to University of New Mexico Hospital after he was struck by a vehicle while directing traffic on Interstate 25 near the San Felipe Pueblo.
The weather forced school closures in Santa Fe and in Albuquerque’s eastern mountains. Schools in other municipalities, like Las Vegas, N.M., opted for a two-hour delay.
A messy mix of freezing rain and sleet that fell early Friday was expected to turn into snow later in the day, with 4 to 8 inches expected in some areas.
Central and southwestern counties were under a winter storm warning until 1 a.m. Saturday. A winter storm advisory was declared for counties farther to the north and west.
Crews treated roads before Friday’s commute. The Ohio AAA auto club expected thousands of calls for help from stranded drivers. The city of Cincinnati said it expected to keep 65 to 70 trucks on the road with crews working 12-hour shifts.
Officials blamed freezing precipitation across southern Oklahoma for at least two deaths and cautioned against travel early Friday, saying roads were slick and hazardous due to an overnight coating of snow and sleet.
A 5-year-old boy from Fort Gibson was killed Thursday when the van he was riding in overturned on an icy road. Oklahoma City Police said a transient man was discovered dead under an overpass, and attributed his death to the cold.
In Moore, officials canceled the Christmas in Old Town event featuring horse-drawn carriage rides and a tree-lighting ceremony, which was to take place Friday night. City spokesman Jayme Shelton said organizers feared putting residents in potentially unsafe situations.
Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City and Tulsa International Airport remained open Friday but some flights were delayed or canceled because of the weather.
Snow fell on the Oregon coast and Willamette valley Friday, prompting school closures. Forecasters expected significant snow in the center and northeast of the state, with the freezing temperatures lasting through the weekend.
The cold proved too much for a public outdoor pool in the Oregon city of Klamath Falls. Officials in the high-desert city known for heating businesses, homes and sidewalks with geothermal resources closed the pool at least until next week.
The pool that’s heated with geothermal resources is normally around 80 degrees and sometimes closes in cold weather, but that’s usually in January. The pool temperature had fallen to about 75, low enough to put users at risk, said John Bellon, superintendent of parks maintenance and operations.
Forecasters issued winter storm warnings and watches and an ice storm warning for West Tennessee on Friday, anticipating precipitation that could ice up the ground for a day or more.
A state of emergency was declared in the western and middle parts of the state Thursday. Officials cautioned of hazardous road conditions and the possibility that downed trees and power lines could knock out electricity to homes and businesses.
Residents stocked up on groceries, bought electricity generators and gassed up their cars.
An ice storm in North Texas left nearly 250,000 residential and business customers without power early Friday, mainly in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the utility Oncor said.
Dallas-based Southwest Airlines canceled nearly 80 flights while Fort Worth-based American Airlines and American Eagle canceled about 900 flights Friday due to the weather.
Arlington police said a driver died Friday after his car hit a stopped truck and that the weather appears to have been a factor in the accident.
The Texarkana Bowl between Harding University and Texas A&M Commerce was postponed because the area was under an ice storm warning. Bowl officials and representatives of both schools were working to reschedule the game, which was originally to be held Saturday.
With residents of northwestern Wisconsin digging out from as much as 17 inches of snow, forecasters warned that temperatures in the area could plunge as low as 25 degrees below zero.
Temperatures across north-central Wisconsin were forecast to fall into the single digits above and below zero on Thursday night. They were expected to drop into the minus 20s over the next few days into the middle of next week.
Residents in Laramie and the Shirley Basin endured temperatures of 31 degrees below zero Wednesday night, and high temperatures across the state were forecast to remain in the single digits through the weekend.
Other frigid readings across Wyoming overnight included minus 24 in Rawlins, minus 22 in Casper and Pinedale and minus 19 in Cheyenne.
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