Arctic blasts causing heavy snow, freezing conditions across the U.S.

By Daniel Uria  |  Dec. 17, 2016 at 1:46 PM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 17 (UPI) -- A pair of blasts of frigid arctic air have caused extreme cold and snowy weather conditions across the United States.

The second such gust of arctic air began to move south from Canada on Wednesday and spread east and south across the Midwest and into the southern Plains causing dangerous conditions throughout the weekend, according to The Weather Channel.

Two people were killed and 15 more were hospitalized in a 55-car pile up and tanker explosion in the freezing rain on I-95 in Baltimore, according to The Baltimore Sun.

More than a dozen other crashes were reported in the area as freezing rain caused unsafe driving conditions on the local roads.

"Today's icy road conditions remind us all that it is imperative to exercise extreme caution due to severe weather," Baltimore Mayor Catherine E. Pugh said. "I want to thank the emergency crews for their expedient response."

The Minnesota State Patrol reported 490 crashes due to heavy snowfall and 341 spin outs or off-road accidents in the area beginning Friday, according to KARE.

The crashes resulted in 45 injuries, including two serious injuries in Rochester and Duluth and a fatal crash in Brainerd.

The New York City Emergency Management Department issued a hazardous travel warning on Saturday, WABC reported.

The area was expected to see one to two inches of snowfall, as New Yorkers were warned to be extra cautious while walking or biking and allow extra travel time while driving due to slippery roads.

Minor traffic accidents were also reported in the New York City area while local airports experienced weather-related delays.

Icy conditions in the Virginia and Washington D.C. area caused the Washington Dulles airport and Metro bus services to suspend operations on Saturday morning, according to the Washington Post.

Services were gradually restored throughout the day as two runways were opened at Dulles and Metro bus service returned within about two hours.

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