PORTLAND, Ore. — Subfreezing temperatures across much of the U.S. left millions of Americans facing dangerous cold as Arctic storms left four dead and knocked out electricity to tens of thousands in the Northwest, brought snow to the South, and walloped the Northeast with blizzard conditions that forced the postponement of an NFL game.
An estimated 95 million people nationwide faced weather warnings or advisories Sunday for wind chills below zero Fahrenheit. Forecasters said the severe cold was expected to push as far south as northern Texas while the bitter blast sends wind chill readings as low as minus 70 degrees in Montana and the Dakotas.
“It takes a matter of minutes for frostbite to set in,” the South Dakota Department of Public Safety said in a statement Sunday urging people to stay indoors.
In Iowa, cars were stuck for five hours in blowing snow on Interstate 80 after semitrailers jackknifed in slippery conditions. State troopers had handled 86 crashes and 535 motorist-assist calls since Friday, State Patrol Sgt. Alex Dinkla said.
Road crews were “working the snow-blowers like crazy,” Dinkla said, but high winds were blowing snow right back onto roadways.
In Buffalo, New York, where snowfall of 1 to 2 feet was forecast, severe conditions led officials to postpone the Buffalo Bills-Pittsburgh Steelers NFL playoff game from Sunday to Monday. Winds whipped at 30 mph, and snow was falling at a rate of 2 inches per hour.
Workers with shovels and trucks worked to clear snow from the field at Buffalo’s Highmark Stadium as the Bills warned volunteers eager to help with the shoveling to stay at home and not defy a travel ban on area roads.
“Looks like a pretty good day to not have a football game,” New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Buffalo native, posted on X with a video clip of whiteout conditions in the western New York city.
At least one Bills player was out in the bad weather Sunday putting his newfound free time to good use. Offensive tackle Ryan Van Demark shared a video on Instagram showing fellow lineman Alec Anderson helping a motorist struggling with icy road conditions.
“Good Samaritan, Alec, helping the people,” Van Demark narrates on the brief clip.
Zack Taylor, a National Weather Service meteorologist in College Park, Maryland, warned some parts of the Northeast would see intense snowfall and extreme winds, with gusts up to 50 mph possible.
“That’s why they’re expecting to see near-blizzard conditions at times,” Taylor said.
TRAVEL BANS ISSUED IN NEW YORK AND PENNSYLVANIA
Heavy lake effect snow continues to fall in Western New York. Snowfall rates of 5-7 inches per hour have been reported in some locations. The snow is expected to last through the night and travel bans are anticipated to be kept in place as well.
Trucks that have violated the ban have been getting stuck on the NYS Thruway, creating challenges for snowplows and emergency vehicles. Trucks violating the ban will be ticketed. Travel in the area should be avoided until the storm has cleared.
Current Full Closures
- Buffalo Skyway (Route 5) is closed in both directions (eastbound and westbound) between Ridge Road in Lackawanna and Church Street in Buffalo.
- Route 219 in Erie County to Peters Road in Cattaraugus County is closed.
- Route 400 from Interstate-90 (NYS Thruway) to Route 16 is closed.
The following travel restrictions are in place
- Erie County — A travel ban is in effect in portions of the County.
- I-90 (NYS Thruway) between the PA Line and Exit 46 — All commercial vehicles are restricted (All vehicles are restricted within Erie County).
Current restrictions on empty and tandem trailers
- Interstate 190 (Niagara Expressway)
- Route 219 (in Cattaraugus County)
- Interstate 86 in Chautauqua and Cattaraugus Counties
Restrictions will be in place until conditions improve.
NYC MTA Bridges and Tunnels
All Empty tractor-trailers and tandem trailers restricted at the following locations:
- Bronx-Whitestone Bridge
- Robert F. Kennedy Bridge
- Throgs Neck Bridge
- Verrazano Narrows Bridge
- Cross Bay Bridge
- Marine Parkway Bridge
Tier 2: Empties & Loaded Tandem Trailers w/o Chains or ATD Onboard
- I-86: I-90 to New Yort line
- I-90: New York line
Across the country in Oregon, more than 120,000 homes and businesses were without electricity, most of them in the Portland metro area, a day after high winds and a mix of snow and ice brought down trees and power lines.
“Given the extent of the damage and the high level of outage events, restoration efforts will continue into the week and customers are encouraged to plan accordingly,” Portland General Electric said in a statement. The utility said it was watching a second weather pattern that could bring high winds and freezing rain on Tuesday.
The City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services said its crews were working non-stop at multiple locations to make emergency repairs and prevent sewage releases into homes and businesses. Portland’s largest sewage pump station, which serves downtown and the surrounding inner city, was under partial service due to a frozen pipe.
Widespread power outages affecting tens of thousands were also reported Sunday in Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. In Nebraska, the Omaha Public Power District asked customers to conserve electricity to prevent outages.
“The weather came on faster and has been more prolonged than anticipated,” the district said in a statement Sunday.
Airports across the country were impacted. 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.
Forecasters also warned that rapid bursts of heavy snow and wind could cause drastic and sudden drops in visibility in eastern Pennsylvania and parts of northern New Jersey and Delaware with some “near whiteout conditions” possible.
Another Arctic storm that’s dumped heavy snowfall in the Rockies was forecast to push further south, potentially bringing 4 inches to 6 inches of snow to parts of Arkansas, northern Mississippi and west Tennessee.
Juan Villegas wore layers of clothing beneath his heavy coat Sunday as he and roughly a dozen subcontractors in downtown Des Moines, Iowa, shoveled away a blanket of snow, which also covered park benches and partially buried fire hydrants the day before the state’s presidential caucuses.
Working in temperatures of minus 15 degrees, Villegas said the best way to feel warm was to “just keep moving.”
“If you stay doing nothing, it’s when you really feel the cold,” Villegas said.
Much of Wisconsin were under advisories through Monday afternoon, with predicted wind chills as low as 30 degrees below zero.
Even parts of northern Louisiana, Alabama and Georgia could see snow. In Shreveport, Louisiana, Mary Trammel was among residents who stocked up on bottled water, food and fuel for generators ahead of subfreezing weather expected to coat some roads in ice and up to an inch of snow.
“It’s cold out here,” said Tramel, who told KSLA-TV she bought bread and ingredients for enough soup to last days.
Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders declared a state of emergency in advance to give utility trucks and trucks hauling essential supplies greater flexibility to respond.
Officials in Mississippi’s capital city of Jackson were preparing for days of freezing weather after cold snaps in 2021 and 2022 caused pipes to burst and water pressure to drop across the city of 150,000.
“We feel as confident as we can that we’re prepared for whatever comes our way,” Ted Henifin, Jackson’s interim manager of the city’s long-troubled water system, told WAPT-TV. He said crews were on standby to respond to any broken pipes.
The wild weather didn’t just bring snow and ice. Record high tides that flooded some homes in Maine and New Hampshire on Saturday also swept three historic fishing shacks into the sea from where they had stood for more than 130 years in South Portland, Maine.
“History is just being washed away,” Michelle Erskine said Sunday, a day after capturing video footage of the last two wooden shacks sliding into the ocean.
In Oregon, just south of Portland, 100 trees toppled Saturday, including one that fell on a house and killed a man. Two other people died of suspected hypothermia and a fourth died in a fire that spread from an open-flame stove after a tree fell onto an RV.
The snow and gusting winds had let up Sunday in Oregon, but frigid temperatures meant roads remained treacherous and much of Portland was shut down. In nearby Lake Oswego, Glenn Prohaska was looking for a business that had WiFi so he could book a hotel. With the power out, the temperature in his home had dropped to the 20s overnight.
“In the 40 years I’ve been here, this is the worst I’ve seen,” he said.
The Trucker Staff contributed to this report.
The Associated Press is an independent global news organization dedicated to factual reporting. Founded in 1846, AP today remains the most trusted source of fast, accurate, unbiased news in all formats and the essential provider of the technology and services vital to the news business. The Trucker Media Group is subscriber of The Associated Press has been granted the license to use this content on TheTrucker.com and The Trucker newspaper in accordance with its Content License Agreement with The Associated Press.