Updated Jan 15, 2024 - Science

Arctic blast leaves over 110 million under wind chill warnings

An NWS map showing minimum temperatures through Monday morning, including temperatures as low as -2F in some parts of the northern U.S.

A map of National Weather Service forecast minimum temperatures ending at 7am Monday ET. Image: Pivotal Weather

Editor's note: Follow the latest updates on the extreme U.S. weather here.

An Arctic outbreak tied to a piece of polar vortex was bringing subfreezing temperatures across the U.S., leaving over 110 million people under wind chill warnings and advisories Sunday evening.

The big picture: The National Weather Service warned parts of the Midwest would again experience "near-record, dangerously low temperatures and wind chills," with wind chills below negative 30 degrees below zero from the Northern Rockies to northern Kansas and into Iowa, as the state prepared for Monday's first-in-the-nation caucuses.

Threat level: "The cold air associated with the high pressure will produce dangerously cold wind chills," according to a NWS forecast discussion early Monday.

  • "The temperatures will be 25 to 40 degrees below average from the Northern Rockies to the Plains, Middle Mississippi Valley, and Ohio Valley. ... sub-zero wind chills will affect much of the U.S. and reach into portions of the South," the NWS said.
  • "Values will drop as low as negatives 50 degrees below zero from Montana across the western Dakotas. These wind chills will pose a risk of frostbite on exposed skin and hypothermia."
  • In Oregon, authorities said strong winds from the winter storm downed trees and powerlines across the state, resulting in the deaths of two people in two separate incidents.

By the numbers: Several new records were set or tied over the weekend — including in the Quad Cities, which experienced its snowiest week since record-keeping began in 1884.

  • Colorado Springs' temperatures dipped to -6°F Sunday — a daily record for Jan. 14. Rapid City Airport, South Dakota, tied the Jan. 14 record low of -23°F — two days after breaking its record low for Jan. 12 when temperatures dipped to -18°F.
  • Widespread power outages were reported in Oregon (more than 104,000) and Pennsylvania (nearly 21,000) early Monday, per utility tracker poweroutage.us.
  • The frigid conditions raised concerns about Texas' electricity grid, which experienced a major failure during a deadly February 2021 cold blast. As of early Monday, nearly 17,000-plus customers were without power in the state.

State of play: This expansive cold snap was bringing the threat of -50°F from Montana across the western Dakotas, with the threat of snow and ice in the South and subfreezing temperatures possible in the Deep South by late in the week.

  • Snow and freezing rain were forecast from the West Coast to the Rocky Mountains. Snow, sleet and freezing rain were set to continue to develop and extend east from the Southern Plains, through the Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas into the Tennessee Valley overnight Sunday into Monday.
  • Mississippi's governor declared an emergency for the state and Alabama's governor issued a state of emergency for 25 counties in response to the extreme weather threat Sunday.

Separately, heavy snow and strong winds were expected across portions of the Great Basin to the Central Rockies through Sunday, while heavy lake-effect snow was set to persist downwind of the Great Lakes into Monday due to "very cold air."

  • "Accumulating ice is expected from portions of central and southern Texas through the Lower Mississippi Valley into parts of the Tennessee Valley and Southern Appalachians," the NWS said in a forecast discussion Sunday.

Meanwhile, former President Trump and his Republican presidential rivals campaigned in Iowa's frigid cold on Sunday in their final push the day before the caucuses.

What we're watching: There are signs that another push of Arctic air will hit the Midwest and Eastern U.S. by next weekend.

In photos: Dangerous winter conditions in Iowa and across North America

Flags surrounded by snow piles during a winter storm ahead of the Iowa caucus in Adel, Iowa, US, on Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024. Iowans on Monday will cast the first votes in the 2024 presidential nominating process during a caucus that's likely to show depressed turnout because of historically frigid weather.
Flags surrounded by snow piles during a winter storm ahead of the Iowa caucus in Adel, Iowa, U.S., on Jan. 14, the day before Iowans are due to cast the first votes in the 2024 presidential nominating process. The caucus is expected to show depressed turnout because of historically frigid weather. Photo: Rachel Mummey/Bloomberg via Getty Images
An overturned tractor trailer Interstate 80 during a winter storm ahead of the Iowa caucus in West Des Moines, Iowa, US, on Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024. Iowans on Monday will cast the first votes in the 2024 presidential nominating process during a caucus that's likely to show depressed turnout because of historically frigid weather.
An overturned tractor trailer on Interstate 80 during a winter storm ahead of the Iowa caucus in West Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., on Jan. 14. Photo: Rachel Mummey/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Ducks swim near a frozen portion of the Des Moines River during a winter storm ahead of the Iowa caucus in Des Moines, Iowa, US, on Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024. Iowans on Monday will cast the first votes in the 2024 presidential nominating process during a caucus that's likely to show depressed turnout because of historically frigid weather.
Ducks swim near a frozen portion of the Des Moines River during the winter storm on Jan. 14. Several Republican presidential candidates have canceled events days out from the Iowa caucuses due to the severe weather. Photo: Nathan Howard/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A billboard targeting former US President Donald Trump ahead of the Iowa caucus in Des Moines, Iowa, US, on Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024. Iowans on Monday will cast the first votes in the 2024 presidential nominating process during a caucus that's likely to show depressed turnout because of historically frigid weather.
A billboard targeting former President Trump on Jan. 14 on the eve of the Iowa caucuses in Des Moines, which the 2024 Republican primary frontrunner is expected to win by a large margin. Photo: Nathan Howard/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A vehicle off an embankment during a winter storm ahead of the Iowa caucus in West Des Moines, Iowa, US, on Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024. Iowans on Monday will cast the first votes in the 2024 presidential nominating process during a caucus that's likely to show depressed turnout because of historically frigid weather. P
A vehicle off an embankment during a winter storm ahead of the Iowa caucus in West Des Moines on Jan. 14. Photo: Rachel Mummey/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A screenshot of an NWS Boulder tweet, saying " Here's the view just west the Eisenhower Tunnel and (what's left of the view) just east Vail Pass this afternoon from  @ColoradoDOT  cams.  ⚠️ Winter Storm Warnings remain in effect until 5PM Monday for periods of heavy snow and gusty winds ⚠️  Travel is not recommended! "
The NWS' Boulder office said conditions at the west side of the Eisenhower Tunnel remained "not very good" on the evening of Jan. 14. "While a brief lull in snow is possible this evening, wind gusts will increase and snow will pick up in intensity after 9PM. If you must travel tonight/tomorrow, be prepared!!" it warned in a post to X. Photo: NWS Boulder/X
A screenshot of a tweet by Oregon's Multnomah County Road Services saying: "TRAFFIC ALERT: S.E. 262nd Ave. in east Multnomah County is closed due to a downed power line. The power line is hanging across the intersection of S.E. 262nd Ave. and S.E. Telford Rd. Avoid the area."
The scene in Multnomah County, Oregon, on Jan. 14. Photo: Multnomah County Road Services Road Services/X
A screenshot of an NWS State College tweet, saying: "These two images were taken 4 minutes apart on I-80 near the Clearfield exit. This is what we mean by rapid onset whiteout conditions and roads becoming slippery. Please avoid travel in snow squalls!"
The scene in Clearfield, Pa., on the afternoon of Jan. 14. By the afternoon, snow squalls had moved to the east and no longer posed a threat to central Pennsylvania, but NWS State College said cold and blustery conditions "with single digit subzero wind chills over the western Alleghenies" remained — with minimum wind chills ranging from -10°F to  +15°F by nighttime. Photo: NWS State College/X
 Motorists navigate through blowing snow during a cold windy day on January 13, 2024 in West Des Moines, Iowa.
Motorists navigate through blowing snow during a cold, windy day on Jan. 13, 2024 in West Des Moines, Iowa. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images
: People walk on the street during a snowfall on January 12, 2024 in Toronto, Canada. A winter storm brought heavy snow and strong winds across the Toronto.
The scene in Toronto, Canada, on Jan. 12. The big blizzard that helped bring in the cold air stretches into Canada. Photo: Yu Ruidong/China News Service/VCG via Getty Images

Go deeper... Winter whiplash: Why a parade of storms is suddenly slamming the U.S.

Editor's note: This a breaking news story. Please check back for updates. Andrew Freedman contributed reporting.

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