USA TODAY By Jeanne Santucci While a brutal and deadly winter storm appears to have finished dumping snow across much of the northeastern U.S., the eastern two-thirds of the country isn’t done with arctic temperatures just yet, forecasters said Saturday.
This weekend, temperatures will be below freezing with wind chills as low as minus 20 to minus 30 degrees across the Northern Plains, the National Weather Service said. Frigid air was expected to drift into the Midwest from Canada, and millions were under wind chill advisories. Meanwhile, heavy rain was set to hit the West Coast starting Saturday and continuing through early next week.
“While this arctic outbreak will not be as cold as the previous one, sub-zero temperatures will reach as far south as Missouri and Kansas this morning,” the weather service said in an advisory early Saturday.
The chill comes after major East Coast cities, including New York and Washington, DC and a large swath of the Midwest saw several inches of snow over the last week, delaying travel, shuttering schools and causing dozens of people to die of hypothermia or weather-related accidents. Some places saw major snowfall, including Michigan City, Indiana, where there were 17 inches of lake-effect snow.
Children play in the nearly 5 inches of snow that dropped in Rockwood Park in Wilmington, Delaware, on Friday, Jan 19, 2024.
Weather blamed for at least 55 deaths
The series of storms over the last two weeks led to at least 55 deaths across the country, many due to hypothermia or accidents caused by weather conditions.
Nineteen people died in Tennessee, including a 25-year-old man who was found inside a mobile home after a space heater fell over and shut off, officials said.
“There was ice on the walls in there,” Bob Johnson, chief deputy for the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office, said.
Others died in traffic wrecks. In Washington County, Tennessee, a patient in an ambulance and a person in a pickup truck were killed in a head-on crash after the truck lost control on a snowy road.
Five people died in Kentucky from the freezing weather, and another five – most of whom were unhoused – died in Washington state, officials said. At least two others died in Louisiana.
Freeze to continue this weekend
Wind chill advisories extended from parts of Montana to northwestern Georgia on Saturday morning, as forecasters warned about sub-zero temperatures that could feel much colder due to wind.
“Frigid air” passing over the relatively warm water of the Great Lakes is also expected to create more lake-effect snow downwind of the lakes, the weather service said. Also on Saturday, upslope snow is expected from West Virginia to southwestern Pennsylvania.
In Memphis, officials told residents to boil drinking water starting Friday after the cold weather caused many water mains to break causing water pressure to drop.
New York City’s emergency management agency said standing water and slush that could refreeze overnight would pose a danger of patchy ice on the ground on Saturday, and urged commuters to be careful on the roads and sidewalks.
“Cold conditions with sub-freezing temperatures will remain until Monday,” the agency said.
Good news ahead: Thawing weather next week
In what UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain has dubbed “weather whiplash,” a dramatic warmup is expected across the continental U.S. next week. Forecasters say above-average temps will stretch across the country, with highs into the 60s or 70s in some places in the South.
The National Weather Service said there won’t be additional replenishment of arctic air from Canada, so a “steady warmup” will start in the middle of the country by Sunday.
The warmth will also bring a chance for flooding due to rainfall and snowmelt, forecasters said.
Contributing: Doyle Rice, USA TODAY; The Associated Press