A record-breaking storm system took a frosty grip over the Midwest Tuesday before heading to parts of the East Coast, with the early-season snow already blamed for several deaths.
The National Weather Service said an “arctic airmass” that started in Siberia has been spilling over a big chunk of the Midwest and East Coast, bringing record cold temperatures as far south as the upper Texas coast that is making it feel like the middle of winter.
“These are temperatures we typically see in January,” Fox News senior meteorologist Janice Dean said Tuesday on “Fox & Friends. “Ahead of the cold front, that’s where we got the warm air, but that is about to change.”
As the Arctic cold front moves east, an area of low pressure developing along the front is bringing a wide swath of snow from the Tennessee Valley all the way into New England. The storm system moved through the Midwest on Monday, making driving difficult across the region. Authorities are blaming the storm for at least four deaths.
The Eaton County Sheriff’s Office in Michigan said two women, ages 81 and 64, and a 57-year-old man were killed in a two-vehicle crash caused by poor road conditions. And in Kansas, the Highway Patrol said an 8-year-old girl died in a three-vehicle wreck.
Officials in central Wyoming were searching for a 16-year-old autistic boy who went missing Sunday wearing only his pajamas.
In Chicago, a plane landing at O’Hare International Airport on Monday slid across the runway, though no one was injured. More than 1,000 flights at O’Hare and Midway International Airport were canceled after more than 3 inches of snow fell.
Meanwhile, the Plainfield Police Department in Illinois shared a photo of a crash involving a car that hit a sign with a digital display board that read, “Is your vehicle ready for winter?”
“One of our officers couldn’t help but see the irony in this situation,” the department said on Facebook. “The sign says it all… are you ready?”
Potentially hazardous travel conditions were expected Tuesday in parts of the Northeast, where a swatch of six to 12 inches was forecast to fall, while snowy and icy conditions slowed traffic in parts of Ohio and Pennsylvania.
“Snow across portions of the Ohio and Tennessee River Valley, as far south as Texas, and some of that is going to get in towards the coastal areas of the Northeast, maybe here in New York City,” Dean said. “But again the big story is going to be the extremely cold temperatures.”
In Chicago, a nearly 70-year-old temperature record was broken on Monday when Chicago-O’Hare, the city’s climate site, dropped down to 14 degrees.
“This breaks Chicago’s old record low for November 11th of 15° set back in 1950,” the NWS Chicago tweeted.
Up to 300 temperature records are expected to be broken across the Midwest by the time the bitter cold settles in. In Minnesota, Monday was the coldest temperature in three decades in the Twin Cities at 18 degrees and some Minnesota lakes were freezing earlier than normal.
The NWS reported, in all, that snowfall totals could reach up to a foot or more in some parts of Indiana, Michigan and Vermont. Areas west of the Rocky Mountains would be spared the arctic air, with above-average temperatures expected in some of those places, according to the weather service’s Weather Prediction Center.
“In contrast to the central and eastern U.S. record cold, much above average temperatures are expected across the West into the Great Basin and Rockies,” the agency said. “The warm temperatures, low relative humidities, and dry conditions will continue to elevate the threat of fire weather for portions of Southern California into the Southwest over the next two days.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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