Arlington, Virginia – A brutal and prolonged arctic blast is bringing heavy snow, wind, and ice across much of the US, threatening record-breaking low temperatures and dangerous morning commutes as another storm takes aim at the South. Over 140 daily cold records could be broken Monday and Tuesday from Oregon to Mississippi, with temperatures in some areas expected to stay below freezing for at least 72 consecutive hours.
Combined with the cold, slick wintry precipitation won’t melt on untreated surfaces for the Monday morning commute in places like Dallas and Shreveport, Louisiana, making travel more dangerous. Accumulating ice is expected from Texas through the Lower Mississippi Valley into parts of the Tennessee Valley and Southern Appalachians.
About 100 million people are under wind chill alerts as sub-zero wind chills sweep across much of the US and reach into the South. Winds of 10 to 25 mph could cause life-threatening wind chills that could cause frostbite on exposed skin in as little as 30 minutes.
In addition to the dangerous weather conditions, Texas’s vulnerable power grid is struggling to cope with the freezing cold, as ERCOT, which manages 90% of the state’s electric load, asked Texans to conserve electricity use Monday as it “expects tight grid conditions.”
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves issued a state of emergency Sunday to support response and recovery efforts, urging all Mississippians in the impacted areas to prepare their homes for below-freezing temperatures and to bring pets inside.
In Kentucky, Gov. Andy Beshear also declared a state of emergency as the winter storm was set to hit the region, asking Kentuckians to stay weather-aware as snow accumulation and below-freezing temperatures continue to sweep through the state.
The storm is expected to lay down a coating of snow between 2 and 6 inches from Oklahoma to Virginia, just north of where the heaviest ice will fall. Memphis, which has had no measurable snow so far this year, is forecast to see between 3 and 7 inches. Heavy snow is also expected over parts of the Central Rockies into Monday evening.
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 -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.