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Arctic blast plunges 79% of US into deep freeze

A dangerous Arctic blast continued sweeping across the US Monday, bringing below-freezing temperatures to more than three-quarters of the country and leaving at least four people dead – including a woman in Oregon who was killed when a tree toppled onto her RV.

The bone-chilling cold was expected to set record-low temperatures Monday and Tuesday from Oregon to Mississippi — about 79% of the country — and threaten an NFL playoff game and the Iowa caucuses.

Lashing winds and a slushy-like mix of snow and ice brought down some 100 trees over the weekend in a community just south of Portland, Oregon, including one that fell onto an RV and sparked a fire, killing a woman in her 30s.

Three others escaped the doomed mobile home, where firefighters learned people had been using an open flame to stay warm, reported the station KOIN6.

Another man was killed in Oregon when a tree toppled onto his home, and two others died of suspected hypothermia.

A tractor-trailer truck sits wrecked in the ditch along eastbound Interstate 80 on January 14, 2024 near Williamsburg, Iowa. Getty Images

The National Weather Service warned that brutal wind chills are expected to push temperatures 30 degrees below zero from the Northern Rockies to northern Kansas and into Iowa, which is hosting the first-in-the-nation presidential nominating contest Monday, despite facing fierce wind chills in the negative 30s.

“You can’t sit home,” former President Donald Trump urged supporters during a campaign stop Sunday. “If you’re sick as a dog, you say, ‘Darling, I gotta make it.’ Even if you vote and then pass away, it’s worth it.”

Arctic storms left tens of thousands of people in the Northwest without power, blanketed large swathes of the South with snow — and walloped the Northeast with blizzard conditions and snow squalls, forcing the postponement of the Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Buffalo Bills NFL playoff game hosted in frigid Buffalo, New York.

A chainsaw rests in a downed tree as workers pause cutting on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024, in Portland, Ore. AP

The game was rescheduled for Monday after being canceled Sunday, but its fate remained uncertain, given that heavy lake-effect snow moving into upstate New York was expected to add to the 1 to 2 feet of snow already covering the region.  

The Bills invited fans to help dig out the snow-in Highmark Stadium, offering $20 an hour for their troubles.

“We made progress shoveling, but not much at all,” said Logan Eschrich, a storm chase who traveled to Buffalo to help with the effort.

A record high tide in Maine washed away three historic fishing shacks that had stood since the 1800s AP

About 100 million people across the US are under wind chill advisories as sub-zero wind chills grip much of the country, plunging to teeth-chattering 50 degrees below zero in Montana and the Dakotas.

Winds of up to 25 mph could cause frostbite on exposed skin in just 30 minutes, reported CNN. In South Dakota, wind chills as low as -45 can cause frostbite in as little as 5 minutes.

Other parts of the country could see temperatures drop 25 to 40 degrees below normal, from the Rockies to the Ohio Valley.

More than 140 daily cold records could be broken Monday and Tuesday from Oregon to Mississippi.

Kentucky, Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana declared emergencies as Arctic storm swept through the country.

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves issued a state of emergency Sunday to boost response and recovery efforts.

“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,” a news release from the governor’s office said.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear also declared a state of emergency, asking people in his state to stay “weather-aware.”

As temperatures in Texas plunged, the state’s power grid operator asked residents to voluntarily conserve electricity Monday due to the cold weather causing “record breaking demand” for energy, less than three years after a deadly freeze in 2021 left millions of Texans without power.

Widespread power outages affecting tens of thousands were reported Sunday in Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. In Nebraska, the Omaha Public Power District also appealed to customers to conserve electricity to prevent blackouts.

Airports across the country were impacted by the Arctic blast. More than half of flights into and out of Buffalo Niagara International Airport were canceled. Scores of flights also were canceled or delayed at Chicago, Denver and Seattle-Tacoma airports.

With Post wires

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Written by SaleemBaloch

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