Temperatures as low as -15°C (12°F) are expected to bring arctic conditions to large parts of the United States as Christmas approaches, forecasters have warned.
The polar explosion heading towards the already frigid south WE is likely to endanger the lives of vulnerable people and ruin holiday travel plans for many, experts have said.
National Weather Service meteorologist Zack Taylor said: “We are looking at well below normal, potentially record high temperatures leading to the Christmas holidays.”
In a special weather statement issued Sunday, the service warned of “extreme and prolonged freezing conditions for southern Mississippi and southeast Louisiana.”
The cold snap adds to a major freeze that dumped up to 61cm (2ft) of snow across the northeastern United States, leaving more than 80,000 people in New England without power Sunday morning, said poweroutage.us, which tracks outages across the country. .
Temperatures are expected to drop as low as -15 C (5 F) in Nashville, Tennessee by Thursday evening, when the mercury could reach -11C (12F) in Jackson, Mississippipredicted the National Weather Service (NWS).
The Weather Prediction Center has warned that the next seven days could see “the coldest air of the season” as the strong Arctic front hits the eastern two-thirds of the country in the days leading up to Christmas.
Its forecasters predicted a “massive swath of freezing temperatures from the Northern Rockies and Northern Plains to the Midwest through the middle of the week, then reaching the Gulf Coast and much of the eastern United States from here on Friday and until the weekend”.
In the northeast, utility companies brought in additional workers from other states but were hampered by slippery roads and dangerous conditions.
NWS meteorologist Frank Pereira said: “It was heavy, wet snow, which had impacts on both travel and infrastructure.”
Police across New England have responded to more than 180 crashes since Friday night.
In Vermont, state officials said power may not be restored to some customers for two to three days.
Montana is among the states that are already shaking – in temperatures as low as -16C (4F) on Sunday night.