By Laila Kearney
Temperatures in all 50 U.S. states dipped to freezing or below on Tuesday as an unseasonably cold blast of weather moved across the country, while heavy snow prompted a state of emergency in western New York.
In the U.S. South, states were bracing for a record chill from the Arctic-born cold that swept the Rocky Mountains last week.
Every U.S. state, including Hawaii, was bitten by temperatures at the freezing point of 32 degrees F (0 C) or below, the National Weather Service (NWS) said.
Hawaii’s Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano, had low temperatures of 30 F (-1 C) to 32 F, said NWS spokeswoman Susan Buchanan.
It was the coldest November morning across the country since 1976, according to Weather Bell Analytics, a meteorologist consulting firm. Typically, such cold is not seen until late December through February, the NWS said.
Parts of Erie County, in western New York, had 60 inches (1.5 m) of snow, with more falling, said Steven Welch of the National Weather Service near Buffalo.
Snow had fallen at a rate of up to 5 inches (13 cm) an hour, and the 24-hour total could reach 70 inches (178 cm), threatening the U.S. record for a populated area, Welch said..
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency for 10 counties. National Guard troops were deployed to help residents cope with the storm.
A total of 3 to 4 feet (0.9 to 1.2 metres) of snow was expected in many areas of western New York and as much as 6 feet (1.8 metres) elsewhere, the NWS said.
A 140-mile (225-km) stretch of the New York State Thruway along Lake Erie and Lake Ontario was closed. Bans on driving were implemented in some places.
A bus carrying the Niagara University women’s basketball team had been stuck on the Thruway since 2 a.m., the school said.
In Florida, freezing temperatures were expected through Wednesday morning, the NWS said.
“I can’t stand it,” said Robin Roy, 53, shivering underneath a rainbow-colored poncho at an outdoor market in Gulfport, Florida. “I’ve never liked the cold.”