Extreme winter conditions gripped large swathes of the United States on Saturday, bringing heavy snow and ice and cutting power to thousands of people from the Pacific Northwest to the mid-Atlantic.
Minnesota – which is no stranger to cold weather – could have set a record temperature for February 13 of minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit, which was recorded 25 miles east of Ely, according to the National Weather Service. Minnesota’s previous record for the date was minus 46 degrees, set in 1916. Several other areas in northern Minnesota have reported temperatures below 40 degrees, according to the Weather Service.
Ice storm warnings, winter storm warnings, and winter weather advisories have been issued through a thick belt across the country, from Seattle to southern Texas to southern New Jersey, with many areas reporting brutally low temperatures.
Heavy snow fell over the mountains and lowlands of Washington and Oregon, with heavy icing in northwestern Oregon. Seattle was covered in more than a foot of snow, and emergency crews were responding to cars slipping on icy roads.
In southern Washington state, Clark County officials declared a state of emergency, warning that roads had become impassable and six snow plows were stuck in deep snow and ice , although they are fitted with tire chains.
“It’s a good reminder to the community that winter driving conditions are unpredictable and even the best prepared vehicles can have difficulty maneuvering in these conditions,” said Ahmad Qayoumi, Clark County Public Works Director. .
Housekeeper Kate Brown of Oregon declared a state of emergency Saturday, saying the weather had created “extensive damage” and left hundreds of thousands of people without electricity. She said the crews were in full force to respond to the dangerous conditions and open warming centers.
In Northwestern Oregon’s Willamette Valley, traffic was at a standstill on some roads, including Interstate 84. Downed trees and power lines had closed other roads in the Oregon, and the low temperatures made plows difficult.
More than 230,000 people in northwestern Oregon were without power on Saturday afternoon as crews worked to repair more than 1,200 downed power lines, according to Portland General Electric. The company estimated that it would take at least two days to restore power.
“We really understand this is frustrating,” the company wrote on Twitter, “And we’re sorry.”
The power outages affected at least eight states. Virginia, with nearly 280,000 customers without power, has been among the hardest hit; Oregon, with over 230,000; and North Carolina, with more than 120,000, according to PowerOutage.us, which aggregates live electrical data from utilities across the United States
Bad weather was the prelude to yet another winter spell that is expected to bring snow, sleet and freezing rain to more than 100 million Americans over the next few days.
The storm was expected to hit the southern plains on Sunday before making its way into the Mississippi, Tennessee and Ohio valleys and into the northeast on Monday and Tuesday.
The Texas Department of Transportation has warned drivers to prepare for “a marathon of historically cold air” over the next few days that could make driving dangerous.
“Remember, if you don’t have to be on the road, stay home,” the department said.
Las Vegas was going through its own tumultuous weather as afternoon storm packed winds of up to 72 miles per hour at the North Las Vegas airport, according to the Las Vegas office of the National Weather Service.
Nearly 30,000 customers were without power in the Las Vegas area alone, according to NV Energy.