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Bitter cold wind chills proving deadly, hindering airlines, power grids, schools

Nation gripped by extreme winter weather
Arctic blast across U.S. linked to 12 deaths across multiple states 01:54

Dangerously cold temperatures affected much of the Rockies, Great Plains and Midwest on Tuesday, with wind chills below minus 30 degrees in many parts of the central U.S.

CBS News senior weather and climate producer David Parkinson reports more than 40 cold temperature records are likely to be broken Tuesday from Texas to Tennessee and in Michigan.

He notes that Baltimore and Philadelphia picked up over an inch of snow for the first time in more than 700 days Tuesday.

The National Weather Service said on X, the former Twitter, that New York City did the same:

Tens of thousands of U.S. homes and businesses were without power early Tuesday, according to, the bulk of them in Oregon after widespread outages that started Saturday. Portland General Electric warned that the threat of freezing rain Tuesday could delay restoration efforts. Transportation officials urged residents to avoid travel as roads were expected to be hazardously slick with ice that could weigh down trees and power lines, causing them to fall.

Parkinson says a far larger ice storm is likely in Oregon and Washington state Tuesday evening into Wednesday morning, adding that the accumulations in some of Portland's suburbs could exceed half an inch of ice, which would take down countless trees and lead to many power outages. In the Cascade Mountains, Parkinson says, that ice will turn to several feet of snow — and that storm system will cross the country and eventually bring more snow to the I-95 corridor Friday into Saturday.

Winter Weather Missouri
A pedestrian braves sub-zero temperatures while walking on Jan. 15, 2024, in downtown Kansas City, Mo. Charlie Riedel / AP

ERCOT, which manages the Texas power grid, appealed to customers for the second morning in a row Tuesday to conserve electricity, CBS News Texas reports.

CBS Houston affiliate KHOU-TV says it took one commuter six-and-a-half hours to make the drive home from work Monday that usually takes a little more than a half-hour.

Classes were canceled Tuesday for students in Portland and other major cities including Chicago - home to the nation's fourth-largest public school district - Denver, Dallas, and Fort Worth, Texas.

Air travelers experienced delays and cancellations. The flight tracking service reported about 2,900 cancellations Monday within, into or out of the United States and more than 1,200 as of 7:15 a.m. Tuesday. 

Storms and frigid temperatures affected everything from air travel to NFL playoff games to Iowa's presidential caucuses, and caused of several deaths around the country.

At least four people in the Portland area died, including two from suspected hypothermia. Another man was killed when a tree fell on his house and a woman died in a fire that spread from an open-flame stove after a tree fell onto an RV.

In Wisconsin, the deaths of three homeless people in the Milwaukee area were under investigation, with hypothermia the likely cause, officials said.

The National Weather Service Chicago office said on X that there was no relief in sight Tuesday:

Freezing rain and sleet were expected continue across portions of the Southeast Tuesday morning. Winter storm warnings were in effect for Lawrence, Limestone and Madison counties in Alabama and in Franklin County in Tennessee, southeast Arkansas, northeast Louisiana and much of northern, central and southwestern Mississippi.

Monday night saw temperatures drop as low as 10 degrees in Olive Branch, Mississippi, and Jackson, Tennessee.

Frigid temperatures in the Northeast didn't stop fans from heading out to cheer on the Buffalo Bills at a snow-covered Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park, New York. The Bills beat the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday in an AFC wild-card playoff game that was delayed 27-1/2 hours because of a storm that dumped more than 2 feet of snow on the region and prompted the Bills to ask the public for help shoveling out the stadium.

And voters handed former President Donald Trump a win Monday night in the coldest first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses on record. Temperatures dipped to minus 3 degrees in Des Moines, with the wind chill making it feel far colder.

Temperatures are expected to moderate midweek but a new surge of colder air is forecast to drop south over the Northern Plains and Midwest, reaching the Deep South by the end of the week.

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