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A snowy scene in Wrightwood, Calif., on Saturday. Photo: Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Heavy snows and frigid temperatures were plaguing the West Monday, forcing several highways in Northern California and Nevada to close, with travel warnings issued in the snow-lashed Sierra Nevada.

Threat level: The National Weather Service said significant snowfall hit West Coast mountain ranges and the Intermountain West, with record cold weather in the Pacific Northwest. Meanwhile, the U.S. South was experiencing "unusually warm temperatures," with dozens of cities in the lower 48 states on track for their warmest December on record.

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

The big picture: As Southern states sweltered, wintry conditions were impacting cities from California's Sierra Nevada Mountains to Seattle.

  • In Nevada, crews in the Reno area responded to two separate pileups Sunday, including one involving 20 cars that resulted in at least three patients being taken to the hospital, according to local authorities.

By the numbers: Frigid temperatures in the low 20s°F broke records in the Seattle and Portland metro areas Monday morning, as even colder air — with wind chills down into the minus-30s°F and 40s°F — slipped across the border with Canada and into Montana.

  • In Vancouver, Canada, the low temperature on Monday morning was the coldest there since the late 1960s, as exceptional cold settled in across the province. The frigid conditions there mark yet another extreme event in a year that has featured record-shattering heat, wildfires and devastating floods.
  • The UC Berkeley Central Sierra Snow Lab set a record for its snowiest December, with 193.7 inches, and it's still snowing there.
  • The mountain snow totals since Dec. 21 has reached 117 inches at Northstar, Calif., and 111 inches at Homewood and Sugar Bowl, the Weather Service reports.

For the record: Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak ordered state offices to remain closed on Monday due to the forecast of more heavy snow and wind, as police and the state Department of Transportation reported "dangerous road conditions in Carson City, Washoe County and Douglas County areas," per a statement from the governor.

  • Oregon Gov. Kate Brown declared a state of emergency on Thursday in advance of the storm. The governor's order will remain in effect through Jan. 3.

Meanwhile, Texas was seeing temperatures in the 80s on Monday after a record warm weekend.

  • "Houston/Hobby broke the previous record of 82 degrees and reached 83 degrees," the NWS said Sunday. "Galveston tied their daily high temperature record of 78."
  • More high temperature records may fall from Oklahoma to North Carolina and points southward on Monday and Tuesday.
  • Christmas Day was unusually mild across much of the Central and eastern U.S., with five states setting preliminary all-time high temperature records for the day.

What to expect: A low pressure system was expected to bring snow to portions of the Intermountain West and the Southern and Central Rockies overnight, with 12-18 inches expected to fall, according to the NWS. The highest peaks may accumulate over 2 feet of snow by Wednesday evening.

  • "Meanwhile, a couple of systems will come out of the West and pass through the Eastern half of the U.S. on Tuesday and Wednesday with multiple hazards, especially a severe threat in the South on Wednesday," the agency said.
  • Widespread high temperature records could be broken across the Southern Plains, Lower Mississippi Valley and eventually Tennessee Valley over the next couple of days, and the Southern and Central Plains could face the threat of fire weather due to warm and dry conditions beneath a strengthening low pressure system.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with the latest snowfall amounts and temperature records.

Go deeper

Updated Jan 15, 2022 - Energy & Environment

Earth's climate went off the rails in 2021, reports show

Temperature departures from average in degrees Celsius during 2021. (Berkeley Earth).

Global warming became local to a new and devastating extent in 2021, with the year ranking as the sixth-warmest on record, according to new, independent data from NASA, NOAA and Berkeley Earth.

Why it matters: Each year's data adds to the relentless long-term trend, which shows rapid warming due overwhelmingly to human-caused greenhouse gas emissions during the past several decades in particular.

Why 401(k) rollovers are so annoying

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

If you happened to change jobs recently, you may have tried to transfer your retirement account from your former employer into an Individual Retirement Account or your new employer's 401(k) plan. If so, you probably encountered a bureaucratic gantlet — and you're not alone.

Why it matters: Kludgey processes around retirement account transfers result in people losing track of their funds, giving up important tax advantages, or otherwise disadvantaging themselves and being less prepared for retirement.

The hard math behind America's labor shortage

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Congressional Budget Office; Chart: Axios Visuals

Yes, the pandemic has created unusual temporary labor market dynamics. But in the bigger picture, the 2010s were a golden age for companies seeking cheap labor. The 2020s are not.

The big picture: In the 2010s, the massive millennial generation was entering the workforce, the massive baby bo0m generation was still hard at work, and there was a multi-year hangover from the deep recession caused by the global financial crisis.