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Winter storm live updates: US arctic blast leaves 9 dead while Buffalo Bills push ahead with game

At least nine people have been killed amid brutal winter storms sweeping the United States.

Severe weather warnings were issued from coast to coast on Tuesday after heavy snow impacted the Northeast, and freezing rain deluged the Pacific Northwest.

The Midwest, Great Plains and the Rockies can expect another day of record-breaking, bitterly cold temperatures with wind chills below minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit (F). People were warned to avoid being outside as much as possible due to the risk of frostbite and hypothermia.

Buffalo, New York received around ten inches of snow in the last few days. Despite this, the NFL playoff game between the Buffalo Bills and Pittsburgh Steelers went ahead on Monday night after being postponed from Sunday due to the conditions. After fans helped dig out the stadium, the Bills went on to beat the Steelers 31-17.

A brief reprieve from the dangerous cold is expected to follow on Wednesday - before another Arctic blast hits the country later this week, the National Weather Service reported.

Key Points

  • Iowa declares coldest caucus day in history

  • Kentucky governor has issued state of emergency

New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore end snowless streaks

15:00 , Katie Hawkinson

This week’s winter storm has put an end to nearly two-year-long snowless streaks in several cities.

On Monday, Baltimore broke its streak of 716 days without more than an inch of snow. Now, the city is blanketed in more than 4 inches.

Philadelphia broke its 715-day streak when it received more than 1.5 inches of snow by Tuesday morning. New York City broke its 701-day streak with 1.4 inches Tuesday morning as well, bringing a fresh blanket of snow to Central Park for the first time in 23 months.

Ted Cruz slammed for joking that Texans should ‘join me in Cancun’ as state braces for deep freeze

14:30 , Martha Mchardy

Ted Cruz has been slammed for joking that Texans should “join me in Cancun” as the state braces for a deep freeze.

“Texans, with the freeze coming, wrap your pipes, cover your plants, stay off icy roads & keep your family safe. And, if it gets too damn cold, join me in Cancun!” he wrote on X.

His tweet came after Texans were warned by the state’s governor Greg Abbott to get ready for ice weather conditions that are expected to continue into Tuesday evening.

Ted Cruz slammed for ‘join me in Cancun’ joke as Texas braces for deep freeze

Monday’s lowest temperature was -42F

14:00 , Io Dodds

Good morning, and welcome back to our winter weather live blog.

At least nine people are suspected to have died as a result of cold temperatures across the country, and the US National Weather Service (NWS) is warning of “dangerously cold wind chills” and savage winter storms in nearly every region of the country.

The lowest temperature anywhere on Monday was -42F in the countryside near Sulphur Springs, Montana, and the Associated Press says that nearly 80 per cent of the US population will see sub-zero temperatures over the next seven days.

Follow along here for more live updates.

Watch: NWS meteorologists dig way out of office as heavy snow hits Iowa

13:50 , Martha Mchardy

More than two feet of snow could land in Buffalo over next two days

13:38 , Martha Mchardy

More than two feet of lake-effect snow could land in the next two days east and northeast of Lakes Erie and Ontario, the weather service in Buffalo, New York, said.

Lake-effect snow occurs when cold, dry air passes over warm lake water, forming clouds that produce snow.

Nearly two feet of snow fell in Buffalo over the weekend, prompting the New York governor Kathy Hochul to announce the Buffalo Bills playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers that was due to take place on Sunday would be rescheduled to Monday.

A travel ban was also implemented over the weekend and schools were closed as of Tuesday.

US winter storm in pictures

13:09 , Martha Mchardy

A fishing shack floats away into Casco Bay during a storm in South Portland, Maine (AP)
A fishing shack floats away into Casco Bay during a storm in South Portland, Maine (AP)
People watch waves crash over the sea wall in Revere, Massachusett (AFP via Getty Images)
People watch waves crash over the sea wall in Revere, Massachusett (AFP via Getty Images)
The fishing vessel Tera Lynn II rests at the shore, Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024, in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, after it ran aground (AP)
The fishing vessel Tera Lynn II rests at the shore, Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024, in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, after it ran aground (AP)
An image of a dairy cow is seen on the back of a Kemps tractor trailer as it moves along the snowy eastbound lane of US Highway 20 during a blizzard near Holstein, Iowa (AP)
An image of a dairy cow is seen on the back of a Kemps tractor trailer as it moves along the snowy eastbound lane of US Highway 20 during a blizzard near Holstein, Iowa (AP)

Winter storms expose 112-year-old shipwreck in Maine

12:50 , Martha Mchardy

Amid severe flooding in Maine, the treacherous weather brought a rare glimpse of a 112-year-old shipwreck at Acadia National Park.

The two-masted sailing schooner named “Tay” ran aground on Mount Desert Island in July 1911 when it struck a ledge during a storm, resulting in the death of the ship’s cook, according to an article in the Bar Harbor Record at the time.

The Tay quickly broke into pieces and a large portion of the ship’s cargo was washed ashore by the waves as its Captain I.W. Scott tried unsuccessfully to make it to harbor.

“The main sheet parted and then he lost his main boom. Capt. Scott attempted to stand off shore under head sails, but he was too far in and was swept inside the breakers,” the article recounts. “The Tay struck hard and was dismasted fore and aft at the first shock and began to go to pieces rapidly.”

But last week, following storms across the country, part of the shipwreck was brought to the surface, washing up on Mount Desert Island’s Sand Beach after being buried for decades.

Some Acadia National Park visitors were able to see a large section of the shipwreck. Bar Harbor local Molly Moon, whose family’s ties to the area date back generations, told CNN it was a “rare experience.”

“I was reminded how blessed I am to live in this beautiful area and relate to the rich history here,” she said.

“My grandmother saw sections of it uncovered in the ’50s, my mother saw the hull unearthed in the ‘70s, and I was fortunate enough to see it return above the sand presently in 2024.”

Following more bad weather over the weekend, some of the shipwreck was washed back into the sea.

While the ship’s wreckage has revealed itself before, the recent sighting was the first in decades, according to Bangor Daily News.

Photo shows house severely damaged by tree in Oregon amid severe weather

12:30 , Martha Mchardy

A photo released by the Lake Oswego Fire Department shows a severely damaged house in the area after a tree fell due to severe weather.

Two people were killed this weekend in Oregon after trees fell on their home, with Portland county officials investigating another two possible hypothermia deaths, according to The Portland Tribune.

Nine people are thought to have died overall due to the severe weather conditions across the country, including in Mississippi where officials said one person died while driving on Sunday, and in Tennessee where one more weather-related death was reported.

In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, three homeless men were found dead with suspected hypothermia in the freezing cold streets over the past few days.

Severely damaged house after a tree fell due to severe weather in Lake Oswego, Oregon, yesterday (Lake Oswego Fire Department)
Severely damaged house after a tree fell due to severe weather in Lake Oswego, Oregon, yesterday (Lake Oswego Fire Department)

80 percent of the US is below freezing temperatures tonight

12:10 , Martha Mchardy

Almost 80 percent of the US is below freezing temperatures tonight, according to the NWS.

Meanwhile, potentially record-breaking cold temperatures are expected across the Rockies, Great Plains and the Midwest today.

Wind chills taking the temperature to below minus 30 could extend into the South, reaching the Mississippi Valley.

Winter storm warning for Maryland and Washington

11:50 , Martha Mchardy

A winter storm warning is in place across parts of Maryland, Washington DC and northeast Virginia until 10 am ET this morning.

Yesterday saw more than one inch of snow in Baltimore and Washington, the heaviest snowfall in the two cities for two years.

Tuesday night is expected to be the coldest night in five years in Washington, with temperatures in the teens.

Winter storms prompt swath of school closures

11:34 , Martha Mchardy

Schools are closed across the country today amid a series of winter storms currently sweeping across the US.

In Chicago and Buffalo, New York all classes and after-school activities are canceled as of Tuesday amid temperatures as low as minus-30 and two inches of snow.

There are a range of closures across the South, including in: North Georgia; Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, Nashville, East Texas; Baton Rouge, LA; Jackson, Alabama and Little Rock.

Watch: Moment 19th century fishing hut wiped out by 15ft wave amid severe weather in the US

11:30 , Martha Mchardy

Another Arctic blast expected late this week in Deep South and the Great Plains region

11:02 , Martha Mchardy

A brief reprieve from the brutal cold front sweeping much of the US right now is expected midweek, but another surge of Arctic air is expected in the Deep South and the Great Plains region later on this week.

The National Weather Service has warned states in the Deep South and the Great Plains region could be hit by a surge of cold air on Thursday and Friday following snowfall and freezing rain across many other parts of the country.

On Wednesday, temperatures will still be below average across the US, but they will not be brutally cold, according to the NWS.

US arctic blast leaves 9 dead while Buffalo Bills push ahead with game

10:34 , Martha Mchardy

At last nine people are suspected to have been killed by a massive series of winter storms currently sweeping across the US.

Some 125 million people in several states are under winter storm advisories as snow has started to fall in the East Coast, hitting areas including Pennsylvania, Washington DC and New York.

The severe weather has caused schools to be closed across a wide swath of the South — from Texas and Tennessee to Alabama and Arkansas — with snowfall and freezing rain expected to continue into Tuesday.

In Buffalo, New York, snow fell at a rate of two inches per hour. However, this did not deter fans of the Buffalo Bills who were seen digging out their stadium ahead of the team’s playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday.

The National Weather Service said that travel could become difficult in areas with heavy snow and significant ice.

On Tuesday, the Rockies, Great Plains, and Midwest areas are expected to see dangerously cold wind chills, which can cause frostbite on exposed skin and hypothermia. The weather service said members of the public should arrange travel with the conditions in mind and avoid being outside as much as possible.

Why is the winter weather so bad this year?

10:06 , Io Dodds

What’s behind this horrific winter weather? The culprit is one you may have heard of before: the polar vortex.

We say the polar vortex because it’s always there. A huge whirlpool of cold, low pressure air is perpetually spinning around Earth’s ice caps.

Usually it minds its own business, hemmed in by a fast-moving polar jet stream which picks up that cold air and circulates it around the edge of the polar regions.

When disrupted, however, the polar vortex expands and the jet stream can vary its course so that it dips southward, delivering sudden blasts of cold air to the rest of the world.

This year, an unusually high amount of lingering snow on the mountains all over the US – especially in contrast to the recent trend of declining snow levels due to climate change – kept that air refigerated for longer, according to Weather.com meteorologist Jonathan Erdman.

Some scientists believe that climate change has is making the polar jet stream more unstable, and more likely to trespass down into temperate regions.

Six states so far have declared emergencies

09:49 , Io Dodds

At least six state governments so far have declared a state of emergency due to the cold weather.

Arkansas, Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, New York, and Nebraska have all hit the big red button for at least part of their jurisdictions in response to vicious temperatures over the past few days.

That is not counting the individual counties and cities that have taken the same step.

“During this time, it is important to check in on vulnerable friends and family, and do whatever you can to stay safe and warm,” said New York governor Kathy Hochul this evening, announcing a travel ban for empty trucks and trailers.

Alabama governor likewise warned on Sunday night: “We are anticipating unusually cold temperatures in Alabama this week, so I am urging everyone to be prepared, take caution traveling and stay weather aware.”

Natural gas supplies drop sharply due to frozen wells

08:02 , Io Dodds

US natural gas supplies have suffered their steepest drop in more than a year due to the extreme cold, according to Reuters.

Gas industry analysts expected record demand from across the nation on Tuesday, though Monday’s estimates were revised downward due to many businesses and government offices being closed for MLK Jr Day.

Meanwhile, the temperatures reportedly caused many gas wells to freeze, along with other equipment used to extract fuel from the ground.

20 American cities see record lows

07:06 , Lauren Io Dodds

231 million: that is the estimated number of Americans currently experiencing below-average temperatures for this kind of year, according to Fox Weather.

The broadcaster said that over 20 cities broke their low temperature records on Monday, with Dallas’s cold smashing a target that had stood for nearly a century.

Buffalo Bills triumph in snowbound NFL game

05:55 , Io Dodds

The Buffalo Bills have triumphed 31-17 over the Pittsburgh Steelers in a snowbound gridiron football match at Buffalo’s Highmark Stadium.

Bills fans celebrated touchdowns by throwing snow in the air like confetti, while the team reportedly advertised 200 openings for temporary snow shovellers to work through the night before the game.

Nevertheless, the conditions weren’t nearly as bad as at Saturday’s game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Miami Dolphins, which was the fourth-coldest n NFL history.

The two teams faced off at Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium in temperatures of -4F, with wind gusts of up to 27mph delivering a brutal -27F chill.

Bills fans take their places before a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on 15 January, 2024 (Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Bills fans take their places before a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on 15 January, 2024 (Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Texans asked to conserve electricity

04:50 , Io Dodds

The Texan state power grid operator has asked residents and businesses to use as little electricity as possible tomorrow in order to avoid a repeat of 2021’s deadly winter weather fiasco.

More than 200 people were killed and millions suffered power outages after the Lone Star State’s grid was overwhelmed by demand during an unusual bout of extreme cold that February.

Now Ercot, the non-profit that operates Texas’s main energy grid, has issued a “conservation appeal” for Tuesday 16 January.

“With the winter storm encompassing the entire state, and temperatures forecasted to be colder this evening and into tomorrow morning, Ercot is asking Texans to conserve electricity use, if safe to do so,” the organisation said on Monday morning.

January storms 2024, in pictures

04:29 , Io Dodds

The brutal weather has resulted in some striking images across the US over the past few days. Here are a few:

Des Moines, Iowa, 15 January 2024 (Justin Lane/EPA)
Des Moines, Iowa, 15 January 2024 (Justin Lane/EPA)
A Buffalo Bills fan watches the game at Highmark Stadium, New York, 15 January (Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports via Reuters)
A Buffalo Bills fan watches the game at Highmark Stadium, New York, 15 January (Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports via Reuters)
A bush frozen solid in Austin, Texas, 15 January (Adam Davis/EPA)
A bush frozen solid in Austin, Texas, 15 January (Adam Davis/EPA)
Traffic navigates past a wrecked trailer on Interstate 80 near Williamsburg, Iowa, 14 January (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Traffic navigates past a wrecked trailer on Interstate 80 near Williamsburg, Iowa, 14 January (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

More than 4,300 flights cancelled in one day

03:47 , Io Dodds

Over 4,300 flights have been cancelled and more than 26,400 have been delayed today, according to the flight tracking firm FlightAware.

Southwest and United topped the list of US airlines for cancelled flights, with 768 and 459 trips nixed respectively – making up19 per cent and 18 per cent of all those carriers’ flights.

Houston and Dallas were the worst-hit airports, with 283 and 207 outgoing flights cancelled on Monday. Denver, Chicago, and Nashville followed not far behind.

Some airports had more than half of their outgoing flights cancelled, including Reagan National Airport just outside Washington DC and Denver International.

Cold weather has been linked to nine deaths so far

02:33 , Martha Mchardy

At least nine people have died in circumstances suspected to be linked to the current winter storms, according to media reports and local authorities.

In Portland, Oregon, county officials are investigating two possible hypothermia deaths, according to The Portland Tribune, with two more killed over the weekend when trees fell on their homes.

Officials in Mississippi said that one person had died while driving on Highway 49 just south of Silver City at around 8pm local time on Sunday, while Tennessee reported one more weather-related death without giving any details.

And in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, three homeless men have been found dead with suspected hypothermia in the freezing cold streets over the past few days.

New York resident captures thundersnow

01:04 , Michelle Del Rey

A resident in Orchard Park, New York appeared to take a video of thundersnow Sunday evening.

The footage was taken near the Buffalo Bills’ stadium, where the team was expected to play against Pittsburgh in the playoffs. The game was postponed until Monday.

Chicago has opened warming centres after weather warning

00:59 , Michelle Del Rey

Chicago has opened warming centres after the officials announced temperatures there might reach -30 fahrenheit, according to NBC News.

The National Weather Service issued a two-day winter weather warning for the city, which began on Sunday night and is expected to be in place until Wednesday.

“Residents can expect extreme cold and should limit time spent outdoors. Impacts include slippery road conditions due to ice and the wind chills could cause frostbite on exposed skin in as little as 30 minutes,” city officials said in a statement.

The city is specifically using the the Harold Washington Library at 400 S State St as a warming centre for people wishing to escape the chilly weather. Officials also plan to use six community centres run by the Department of Family Support Services.

Iowa declares coldest caucus day in history

00:45 , Michelle Del Rey

Iowa is breaking weather records as voters head to the polls to vote for Republican presidential candidiates.

According to the Des Moines office for the National Weather Service, the state had the coldest caucus day since 1972 as temperatures reached -10 degrees fahrenheit.

Ever since that year, the state has been the first to hold its primary election, which offers a glimpse as to the ballots voters might cast during a general election.

Kentucky governor has issued state of emergency

00:26 , Michelle Del Rey

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear issued a state of emergency on Sunday as the state entered a “difficult weather situation”, he said during a news conference.

“We continue to ask Kentuckians to stay weather-aware as snow accumulation and below-freezing temperatures continue to sweep through the commonwealth,” the governor said in a statement. “Please check goky.ky.gov before you travel, and check in on your neighbors, loved ones and pets.”

At a news conference on Monday, Mr Beshear said conditions “could still be dangerous out there both from temperatures we’re going to face as well as driving conditions.”

All flights have been halted at Nashville International Airport

00:10 , Michelle Del Rey

The Federal Aviation Administration released a statement on Twitter saying that all flights at Nashville International Airport have been grounded due to weather.

Over 300 flights were cancelled at the airport on Monday, according to FlightAware, a website that tracks flight data.

Travelers should check with their respective airline to determine their flight status, the agency said.

Much of the US under storm advisories

Monday 15 January 2024 23:50 , Michelle Del Rey

The National Weather Service has issued storm advisories for much of the US on Monday as snow is expected to fall across the East Coast. The warnings are likely to impact approximately 125 million people.

The agency advises that members of the public refrain from being outside.