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Brutal arctic blast expands its reach as the South deals with deadly snow and ice


By Nouran Salahieh, Allison Chinchar and Mary Gilbert, CNN

(CNN) — A brutal and prolonged arctic blast is bringing dangerous cold to a massive swath of the US, including new areas to the south and east, while snow, and ice slam parts of the South. Here’s the latest:

Dangerous cold for Iowa caucuses: The coldest Iowa caucuses on record are forecast Monday, with below-zero high temperatures and wind chills in the minus 30s expected across the state. Those wind chills are cold enough to cause frostbite in as little as 10 minutes on exposed skin.

About 79% of US to see below freezing temperatures: Over 140 daily cold records could be broken Monday and Tuesday from Oregon to Mississippi, as temperatures in Memphis, Dallas and Nashville are expected to stay below freezing for at least 72 consecutive hours.

Treacherous travel conditions: Snow, sleet and freezing rain gathered on roadways across parts of the southern and central US Sunday night into Monday, making travel hazardous. One person was killed and another was injured in Arkansas after their pickup truck careened off a snowy White County highway and hit a tree, according to state police. The wintry mix will continue from Texas through the Lower Mississippi Valley into parts of the Tennessee Valley and Southern Appalachians. “Have a cold survival kit if you must travel,” the National Weather Service said.

Life-threatening wind chills: More than 140 million people in the US are under wind chill alerts stretching from the Canadian border to the Mexican border. Breezy winds are contributing to life-threatening wind chills. In South Dakota, wind chills as low as minus 45 can cause frostbite in as little as 5 minutes. Wind chills of 30 degrees below zero are expected from the Northern Rockies to northern Kansas and into Iowa.

Texas’s vulnerable power grid: As Texas shivers under the freezing cold, ERCOT, which manages 90% of the state’s electric load, asked Texans to conserve electricity use Monday morning as it “expects tight grid conditions.” The call for conservation ended at 10 a.m. CT but ERCOT warned of “similar conditions” Tuesday.

Big city snowless streaks could finally end: Snow from this storm will push across the mid-Atlantic Monday and across the Northeast late Monday through Tuesday. Around 1 to 3 inches of snow is possible across both regions. Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and New York City haven’t had an inch of snow fall in a single day in more than 700 days.

How much snow and ice is expected

More than 70 million people are under winter weather alerts spread over 1,400 miles from parts of the Texas-Mexico border to southern New York.

The storm will lay down snow from Oklahoma to Virginia while ice falls to the south.

Snow totals of 2 to 4 inches were common from Sunday to Monday morning from Oklahoma through Tennessee and Kentucky.

Totals will increase as snow continues to fall in parts of the Tennessee Valley Monday.

Meanwhile, a wintry mix of freezing rain and sleet targeted areas from Texas to Mississippi, unloading a glaze of ice and up to an inch of sleet on area roadways by Monday morning.

Memphis, which has had no measurable snow so far this year, is forecast to see between 3 and 7 inches. The city had already picked up between 1 and 3 inches by early Monday morning.

Heavy snow was expected over parts of the Central Rockies into Monday evening, and lake-effect snow was expected to persist downwind from the Great Lakes through Tuesday, according to the weather service.

“The prolonged nature of this event could result in moderate to major potential winter storm impacts over parts of Arkansas, northwest Mississippi and western Tennessee,” the Weather Prediction Center said.

Already, numerous cold daily records have been broken across the central US as the arctic blast moved toward the southern US. In Kansas City, Missouri, the temperature dropped to minus 3 degrees Sunday – smashing a previous record of 0 degrees set in 1979.

The storm will clear the South by late Tuesday and could then track into the mid-Atlantic and Northeast, increasing snow chances there by Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Oregon is still cleaning up after a potent winter storm accumulated three-quarters of an inch of ice in some cities and damaging winds resulted in widespread power outages over the weekend. Over 111,000 homes and businesses were without power Sunday night, according to the tracking site Strong winds will continue to pound parts of the state Monday.

At least two weather-related deaths were reported in the Portland area over the weekend, according to officials. Another storm will bring more ice to the area on Tuesday.

CNN Meteorologists Robert Shackelford, Sara Tonks, Brandon Miller and Monica Garrett and CNN’s Joe Sutton and Samantha Beech contributed to this report.

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Article Topic Follows: CNN-Weather/Environment

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