The current Arctic blast has brought record-breaking cold weather to many states, with wind chill warnings and advisories issued for over 110 million people as of Sunday evening. The National Weather Service (NWS) warned of “near-record, dangerously low temperatures and wind chills”, with wind chills below negative 30 degrees Fahrenheit from the Northern Rockies to northern Kansas and into Iowa. Some areas, such as Montana and the western Dakotas, experienced wind chills as low as negative 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Arctic blast has also unleashed heavy snowfall and strong winds across large parts of the US, disrupting travel, power supply, and outdoor activities. More than 2,000 flights were cancelled, mostly from Chicago, where at least 7 inches of snow fell. Nearly 200,000 people were without power as of Friday evening, with Michigan and Wisconsin most affected. In Oregon, four people died in separate incidents due to falling trees and power lines. The frigid conditions also raised concerns about Texas’ electricity grid, which collapsed in 2021 during a deadly cold snap. As of Sunday evening, about 10,000 customers were without power in the state.
The Arctic blast has also impacted the political campaigning in Iowa, where the first-in-the-nation caucuses are scheduled for Monday. The expected high temperature on Monday in Des Moines, Iowa, is 1 degree Fahrenheit. When registered voters arrive at their caucus sites, temperatures are expected to be around negative 6 degrees Fahrenheit with a wind chill value of negative 20 to negative 30 degrees Fahrenheit. The extreme weather has forced some candidates to cancel or modify their campaign events, while others have urged their supporters to brave the cold and show up at the caucuses. The Arctic blast could also affect the turnout and the results of the caucuses, as some voters may decide to stay home or change their preferences based on the candidates’ responses to the weather crisis.
The Arctic blast is expected to persist into the next week, with more snow, ice, and freezing rain forecast for the South, the Great Lakes, and the Northeast. The NWS has advised people to limit their time outdoors, dress in layers, and watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia. The NWS has also called the Arctic blast a “life-threatening winter weather” and urged people to stay safe and prepared.