Arctic cold envelops US during holiday weekend, disrupting Iowa campaigning

NEW YORK — The holiday weekend brought dangerous freezing temperatures across much of the United States, snarling everything from political campaigning to football games and travel.

An Arctic blast seeping into the country from Canada caused temperatures to plummet across a vast swath of the country, from the Pacific Northwest into the Rust Belt, the US National Weather Service (NWS) said in its early Sunday bulletin.

“To highlight just how intense this outbreak of Arctic air is, over 95 million citizens fall within a Wind Chill Warning, Advisory, or Watch as of midnight tonight,” the agency said.

Sunday could bring some of the coldest temperatures in states including Montana, South Dakota and North Dakota. There, meteorologists forecast wind chills as low as -70 degrees Fahrenheit (-57 degrees Celsius.)

In Iowa, a powerful blizzard pulled the brakes on the ever-churning political campaigning machine as Republicans vying for the 2024 presidential candidacy canceled events due to the inclement weather.

Snow piled high on the side of every road in Des Moines at the center of the Iowa caucuses’ frenzy rendered political yard signs practically useless.

Reporters spotted a pickup truck full of yard signs touting Republican presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis covered in snow with nowhere to go, sitting outside the hotel where the Florida governor is staying.

David Barker, treasurer of the Republican Party of Iowa, said the brutal temperatures forecast for Monday might test even weather-resistant Iowans.

“Iowans are pretty good at handling cold and snow, so I think we’ll see good turnout, although the weather is likely to bring turnout down somewhat. It may end up being a test of how committed the candidates’ supporters are,” Barker said.

The cold weather’s grip over Iowa is not expected to loosen until well into next week, with wind chills around -40 Fahrenheit (-40 Celsius) expected across the state “at least into Tuesday,” the NWS office in Des Moines said in a post on X.

The winter storm swept across the Midwest on Saturday, cutting power to tens of thousands of households. More than 51,000 customers were without power in Michigan and more than 35,000 were without it in Wisconsin as of Sunday morning.

Extreme weather also impacted the Pacific Northwest and parts of the northeastern United States at the weekend. The city of Portland, Oregon, usually more accustomed to rain, was hit with snow, ice and strong winds that downed trees and knocked out power to over 150,000 customers. Local fire officials and media reported at least two weather-related fatalities.

Thousands of flights were canceled across the country over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend due to the extreme weather conditions.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul issued a travel ban for Erie County on Saturday and the National Football League postponed the Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Buffalo Bills game to Monday due to the expected blizzard.

Forecasters expect treacherous winter weather in the middle and southern United States on Sunday, bringing a mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain. — Reuters

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