At least 8 dead amid record-breaking cold snap

By Danielle Haynes and Daniel Uria  |  Jan. 2, 2018 at 3:47 PM
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Jan. 2 (UPI) -- Record-breaking frigid temperatures across much of the United States may to be blame for at least eight deaths, authorities said.

Arctic cold plunged large swaths of the Plains, Midwest, South and East into sub-zero temperatures, over the weekend, the coldest recording in Embarrass, Minn., on Sunday at minus 45 degrees. Wind chills reached to 50 degrees below zero in parts of the Dakotas and northern Minnesota; Hettinger, N.D., recorded a minus 58-degree wind chill Sunday.

On Tuesday, the deep freeze dipped down to Texas, with a wind chill of minus-10 in Amarillo, and temperatures in the teens and 20s in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and other southeastern states.

The cold may be to blame for a number of deaths across the country.

On Tuesday, a pileup of dozens of vehicles on Interstate 90 in Lancaster, N.Y., killed at least one person. Lancaster Emergency Management said at least 75 vehicles were involved in the crash amid snowy conditions on the New York State Thruway near Buffalo. At least 11 people were transported to local hospitals.

The Milwaukee County medical examiner's office suspects the cold played a role in the deaths of two men found dead outdoors Sunday. Also in Wisconsin, the Fond du Lac County Sheriff's Office said they think cold temperatures killed a 27-year-old woman who went missing after leaving an ice shanty on Lake Winnebago. They said she fell along the shoreline and likely died of exposure.

In Charleston, W.Va., police found a 52-year-old homeless man frozen to death on a porch. Bismarck, N.D., police said they believe a 52-year-old man froze to death before his body was found near the Lewis and Clark Riverboat on the Missouri River.

The minus 2-degree temperature in Detroit also may have played a role in the death of a man found dead sitting outside a church Monday, police said. In St. Louis, police said they found a man frozen to death inside a dumpster Monday afternoon.

The U.S. Coast Guard was tasked with freeing a pair of tugboats stuck in the Hudson River in New York, as the cold weather left parts of the river icy.

The Coast Guard's 140-foot Penobscot Bay cutter freed a tugboat called the Brooklyn on its way from New York City to Albany on Sunday and later assisted the Stephanie Dann on Tuesday morning after the tugboat's engine failed near Newburgh.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Steve Strohmaier advised smaller boats to use caution while navigating the icy Hudson river.

"As the days stay cold, the ice is building up and getting thicker, and some of the smaller boats aren't built for it," Strohmaier said.

Forecasters said another bout of Arctic air is expected to cause temperatures to plummet later in the week. The National Weather Service issued wind-chill warnings throughout the Planes, Midwest, South and East.

The Weather Channel reported areas in the Ohio Valley could see record lows broken by up to 10 degrees.

Leon County, Fla., announced Tuesday it would close schools Wednesday due to expected hazardous road conditions. The NWS predicted up to 1 1/2 inches of snow or one-fourth inch of ice in the Tallahassee area.

The NWS predicted blizzard conditions and up to 12 inches of snow in eastern Massachusetts on Wednesday night. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority's commuter rail lines had delays Tuesday in Boston from technical delays caused by frigid temperatures.

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