BUFFALO, N.Y. (news agencies) — Major cities on the East Coast broke a snow drought of sorts Tuesday while other parts of the U.S. struggled with perilously low temperatures that closed schools, cut power and likely contributed to deaths by cold exposure.
New York City’s Central Park recorded more than an inch (2.54 centimeters) of snow in a single day for the first time since 2022, the National Weather Service said, while Philadelphia’s 715-day streak without a similar amount ended, too.
Slightly more than 100,000 U.S. homes and businesses were without power, most of them in Oregon, Texas and Louisiana, after widespread outages that started last weekend. Portland General Electric warned that the threat of freezing rain could delay restoration efforts.
Schools were closed for students in Portland and other major cities, including Chicago, Detroit, Denver, Dallas, Houston, Memphis, Tennessee, across New England and in the Washington, D.C., region. Federal offices in and around the nation’s capital were also closed as roughly 2 inches (5.08 centimeters) of snow hit the area.
The storms and frigid temperatures affected everything from air travel to NFL playoff games to Iowa’s presidential caucuses, and were also the cause of several deaths.
At least four people in the Portland area died, including two people from suspected hypothermia. Another man was killed after a tree fell on his house and a woman died in a fire that spread from an open-flame stove after a tree fell onto an RV.
In Wisconsin, the deaths of three homeless people in the Milwaukee area were under investigation, with hypothermia the likely cause, officials said.
A Kentucky State Police helicopter rescued four campers stranded atop Courthouse Rock in the Red River Gorge area on Monday, according to Powell County Search and Rescue, which said the call was “one of the most dangerous rescues ever attempted in the Gorge.” The Asbury College students were in good spirits “other than being cold,” officials said.
In Louisiana, state troopers worked all night to get motorists off bridges that had iced over, stranding drivers on the spans on Interstate 10 between Baton Rouge and Lafayette, and Interstate 210 close to Lake Charles, Louisiana State Police said.
Freezing rain and sleet was expected to continue across portions of the Southeast. Winter storm warnings were in effect for Lawrence, Limestone and Madison counties in Alabama and in Franklin County in Tennessee, southeast Arkansas, northeast Louisiana and much of Mississippi.
Moderate to heavy snowfall was expected into the Mid-Atlantic with winter weather advisories in effect from the Mid-Atlantic into New England, according to the National Weather Service. Another 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 centimeters) of snow was expected in New York state and 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 centimeters) of snow was expected in upper New England through Wednesday.
In the Pacific Northwest, ice storm warnings were in effect through Wednesday morning. In parts of the Cascades into the Northern Rockies, 15 to 28 inches (38 to 71 centimeters) of snow was possible.
Another day of record cold temperatures was expected across much of the Rockies, Great Plains and Midwest on Tuesday, with wind chills below minus 30 extending into the mid-Mississippi Valley.
Frigid temperatures in the Northeast didn’t stop fans from heading out to cheer on the Buffalo Bills at a snow covered Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park, New York. The Bills beat the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday in an AFC wild-card playoff game that was delayed 27 1/2 hours because of a storm that dumped more than 2 feet (61 centimeters) of snow on the region.
And voters handed former President Donald Trump a win Monday night in the coldest first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses on record. Temperatures dipped to minus 3 degrees (minus 19.4 C) in Des Moines, with the wind chill making it feel far colder.
Air travelers across the country experienced delays and cancellations. The flight tracking service FlightAware said more than 1,300 cancellations were already reported by Tuesday morning on the East Coast.
Temperatures are expected to moderate midweek but a new surge of colder air is forecast to drop south over the Northern Plains and Midwest, reaching the Deep South by the end of the week.
Brown reported from Billings, Montana, and Gonzalez reported from McAllen, Texas. news agencies reporter Claire Rush in Portland contributed to this story.