Skip to main content

Arctic blast dropping temperatures in U.S. to lows not seen in years

By Mariano Castillo. AnneClaire Stapleton and Ben Brumfield, CNN
January 5, 2014 -- Updated 0508 GMT (1308 HKT)
Snow and ice blanket downtown St. Louis and the Mississippi River on Wednesday, January 8. Snow and ice blanket downtown St. Louis and the Mississippi River on Wednesday, January 8.
HIDE CAPTION
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
Winter weather grips U.S.
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
47
48
49
50
51
52
53
54
55
56
57
58
59
60
61
62
63
64
65
66
67
68
69
70
71
72
73
74
75
76
77
78
79
80
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Plane slides off taxiway in Chicago; nobody hurt
  • Weather blamed for at least 13 deaths
  • Nights in Plains states could get to 30 below zero
  • Wind chills will drop to minus 50 in some places; frostbite can strike quickly

(CNN) -- Get ready for bone-chilling cold you probably haven't endured in years.

A deep freeze is spreading across much of the United States this weekend, making the nor'easter that just blanketed about 20 states with snow look like a mere curtain raiser.

8 tips to ease winter travel woes

Sunday temperatures are expected to hit 30 degrees below zero in North Dakota and other sections of the Plains and Midwest; the wind chill will make it feel like minus 50, the National Weather Service said.

Northeast prepares as nor'easter looms
U.S. braces for Arctic blast
A frosty welcome for Bill de Blasio

By Wednesday, nearly half the nation -- 140 million people -- will shiver in temperatures of zero or lower.

The arctic blast threatens to sweep subzero lows as far south as Alabama and plunge much of the Deep South into the single digits.

Winter weather in the past week has claimed at least 13 lives, CNN has confirmed.

Eleven people died in road accidents -- including one man crushed as he was moving street salt with a forklift.

A man in Wisconsin died of hypothermia. And in Byron, New York, a 71-year-old woman with Alzheimer's disease wandered away from her home Thursday night and was found dead in the snow in a wooded area about 100 yards away.

in Chicago, a plane headed to Las Vegas slid off the taxiway at O'Hare International Airport on Saturday night. None of the customers on Spirit Flight 245 were injured, said Misty Pinson, director of corporate communications for Spirit.

Opening act

The cold blast burst onto the stage in the Northern Plains States early Saturday, hurling North Dakota into below-zero territory.

Minnesota has already closed schools on Monday.

"I have made this decision to protect all our children from the dangerously cold temperatures," Gov. Mark Dayton said.

People in the town of town of Embarrass, Minnesota, say they may break their cold temperature record of 64 below, set in 1996.

"I've got a thermometer from the weather service that goes to 100 below," resident Richard Fowlei told CNN affiliate KQDS. "If it gets that cold I don't want to be here."

Chicago native Leo Londono, 30, said this is the harshest winter he's experienced in the city. From his apartment, he can see large chunks of ice floating on Lake Michigan.

"It's so cold you don't want to step outside," he said. "There's wind chill. And then this huge Arctic air blast is supposed to come through and I don't want to even leave my home."

How cold is it in your town?

The low temperatures and wind chill are a recipe for rapid frostbite or hypothermia.

A 66-year-old man died of hypothermia in Milwaukee on Friday, the medical examiner's office said.

The weather service's Twin Cities, Minnesota, office warns, "Exposed flesh can freeze in as little as five minutes with wind chills colder than 50 below."

This system will produce "the coldest air in two decades," the service said.

The danger of injury and death from the cold will spread with the cold front into the Midwest by Monday night.

Power outages were not as widespread despite blizzard-level winds in some places when the nor'easter passed through in the last few days.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence encouraged residents to do more than check on friends and relatives.

"In preparation for the inclement weather, I encourage Hoosiers to assemble an emergency preparedness kit with plenty of non-perishable food and water, fill any necessary prescriptions, ensure they have a safe heating source, avoid unnecessary travel and be careful if they must be outside." he said.

Upper Midwest

Sunday night in Chicago will see a shivering 16 to 20 below zero and -- once you factor in the Windy City's stiff breeze -- a chill of 35 below to 45 below zero.

Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin, is unfortunately not a domed stadium. Fans and players there will be outdoors and brave temperatures approaching minus 20 as the Packers battle the San Francisco 49ers for a chance to advance to the Super Bowl.

Some sportswriters speculated that it may go down in the record books as the coldest football game ever played.

The Packers organization and a stadium vending company will serve free hot chocolate and coffee to help fans withstand the deep freeze.

As Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said Friday: "This is not the norm."

That's is not the only game where fans will brave the freeze.

On Saturday in Philadelphia, the hometown Eagles hosted the New Orleans Saints in a playoff game. Temperatures were in the mid-20s at kickoff.

Marching on

As the arctic cold conquers about half of the continental United States, temperatures are forecast to dip into the minus teens through the lower Midwest. Snow will cover swaths from the Plains to the Ohio and Mississippi River Valleys, all the way to New England.

Parts of the Midwest could see temperatures not recorded in 15 to 20 years -- for a painful couple of days.

Even areas as far south as Nashville could be frozen solid in zero-degree cold as the arctic air mass dives southward at the beginning of next week.

Flight madness

Thousands were stuck at airports nationwide Friday because of systemwide delays -- though at least they are not out in the frigid cold.

Lesley Ryland tried to get home to England after attending her son's wedding in Kentucky.

"I was supposed to fly from Kentucky/Louisville up to New York, but flights have been canceled at New York, so instead I've come here," Ryland told CBS Atlanta, a CNN affiliate. "Hopefully tonight, I'll get a transfer from here back over to London."

FlightAware.com, which tracks cancellations due to weather and mechanical problems, said about 3,200 flights were canceled Friday within, into or out of the United States.

Expect more of the same in the coming days. At 10 p.m. Saturday, 1,391 flights had been canceled. About 760 Sunday flights have already been called off.

Though the temperature in Las Vegas was 52 degrees -- above zero -- passengers there were also feeling the winter's sting Friday.

Long lines formed inside McCarran International Airport at the counters for Southwest Airlines, which had canceled many of its flights to and from Chicago. The airline carries 40% of Las Vegas' passengers, according to Chris Hayes, an airport spokesman.

CNN's Joe Sutton and Ralph Ellis contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Weathering the storm
February 14, 2014 -- Updated 0309 GMT (1109 HKT)
To understand how human nature sometimes doesn't heed winter weather warnings, listen to how Deanna Hunt didn't listen.
February 12, 2014 -- Updated 1211 GMT (2011 HKT)
A foot of snow may look big and bad, but it's a bunch of fluff compared to a solid inch of ice.
September 8, 2014 -- Updated 1624 GMT (0024 HKT)
Residents who have been stranded on icy interstates and at strangers' homes during a winter storm share their stories.
January 29, 2014 -- Updated 1254 GMT (2054 HKT)
Snow can be a delight -- but only when you're admiring it standing next to your cozy living room fireplace.
February 12, 2014 -- Updated 1826 GMT (0226 HKT)
The majestic trees that line streets across the American South are a beautiful sight most of the year.
February 13, 2014 -- Updated 1231 GMT (2031 HKT)
As winter storms continue to pound the United States, customers inevitably ask why doesn't somebody do something about this?
January 7, 2014 -- Updated 1554 GMT (2354 HKT)
Patience and common sense will serve you well.
January 3, 2014 -- Updated 1817 GMT (0217 HKT)
Power outages can pose safety challenges for medication and food.
can opener
All you need to know about keeping your food safe to eat and what to have on hand in the event of a weather emergency.
February 24, 2014 -- Updated 2222 GMT (0622 HKT)
Schools are proposing a new virtual solution to snow days.
February 11, 2014 -- Updated 1444 GMT (2244 HKT)
The horror stories have been stacking up all winter: Students trapped inside school buses, or nestling in for a surprise slumber party in the school gym.
February 12, 2014 -- Updated 0953 GMT (1753 HKT)
The dire warnings have been heeded. The pantries stocked. The cars parked.
February 11, 2013 -- Updated 1541 GMT (2341 HKT)
Mobile devices have changed how we handle severe weather.
January 29, 2014 -- Updated 1737 GMT (0137 HKT)
Smartphones are not built for the extreme cold.
February 9, 2013 -- Updated 1057 GMT (1857 HKT)
In our increasingly digital world, a mobile phone or other portable device is often a one-stop communication device.
January 31, 2014 -- Updated 1554 GMT (2354 HKT)
Ever wonder about the tiny flakes that make up a blanket of snow?
ADVERTISEMENT