Posted: Thursday, December 5th 2013 at 4:38pm
State-by-state look at a cold snap freezing much of the US
By The Associated Press
From California to Ohio, a big chunk of the U.S. is getting a blast of wintry weather. Frigid temperatures are following a storm that's bringing snow and ice to many areas. The conditions are making travel difficult, raising concerns about citrus crops and prompting the cancellation of fights, holiday festivities and football games. Even one outdoor ice rink in cold-accustomed South Dakota is shutting down.
The National Weather Service issued an ice storm warning for the Interstate 40 corridor and other areas in Arkansas, as a storm that's expected to cripple much of the state into the weekend brought sleet that left roadways slick with ice and slush.
Forecasters say significant ice accumulations are expected across central Arkansas late Thursday through Friday.
Temperatures in the citrus-rich San Joaquin Valley dropped to the low 20s overnight, but officials said it's too early to tell whether there was any crop damage.
To protect the $2 billion citrus crop, farmers are using a number of techniques, including pumping water into groves to warm the soil and using wind machines to circulate the warm air rising from the ground.
Some organizations in the Dakotas canceled holiday events, and one city decided it was even too cold for ice skating.
A "Christmas at the Zoo" fundraising event in the North Dakota city of Minot and "Parade of Lights" events in the South Dakota cities of Yankton and Sturgis were among those called off. Many schools announced late starts, and officials in Rapid City, S.D., shut down an outdoor ice rink.
The National Weather Service posted advisories for the two states saying wind chills could make the temperature feel as low as 40 degrees below zero into the weekend.
About 4,500 customers in southeastern Idaho lost power for several hours after an overnight outage during which temperatures fell below zero. Power was restored about 8 a.m.
Two school districts canceled classed Thursday due to outages and the low temperatures, which hovered at minus 7 degrees in Rexburg about 7 a.m.
Two dozen ice-related crashes were reported in Madison and St. Clair counties on Thursday morning as a storm began bringing freezing rain and snow to the region.
More than a dozen counties south of Interstate 70 in southern Illinois were under winter storm warnings.
Forecasters said snowfall from Thursday afternoon into mid-Friday could leave some southern Illinois areas covered in up to 8 inches of snow. Dozens of schools in the area were sending students home early ahead of the storm.
The storm storm dumped as much as 2 feet of snow in parts of Minnesota, forcing school closures and temporary power outages and delighting skiers who were hitting the slopes despite temperatures in the single digits Thursday.
The Spirit Mountain ski area in Duluth, Minn. welcomed the heavy snowfall, which helped turn the slopes into a party. Attendees included students from the University of Minnesota Duluth and other colleges who were given Wednesday off.
While college classes resumed Thursday, Duluth-area elementary and high schools remained closed. Temperatures were in the single digits above zero Thursday morning and were forecast to slowly fall all day on their way to subzero overnight lows for at least the next few days.
Cities that basked in spring-like 60-degree weather on Wednesday were preparing for temperatures into the 20s or low 30s on Thursday. A number of minor accidents in southern Missouri were blamed on slick roadways, and conditions were expected to deteriorate with up to 8 inches of snow possible by Friday evening.
Temperatures plunged to minus 11 in Helena, where a frozen pipe burst and flooded part of the Montana State Capitol building Thursday morning.
There was minor flooding in the cafeteria, media rooms and some bathrooms, although most of the building remained open for business and public meetings as workers dried the soaked areas.
The cold snap Thursday set or matched record low temperatures in parts of Montana, including minus 26 in Great Falls. Denton also set a record at minus 23 Thursday morning and Havre's minus 27 reading matched a record that has stood since 1936.
The cold snap is expected to last through the weekend.
Temperatures in parts of Ohio were expected to drop by 40 degrees or more as an icy blast of wintry weather bore down on the state Thursday. Temperatures could plunge into the teens by the weekend.
Forecasters predicted the cold front would bring a mix of freezing rain and sleet, as well 2 to 6 inches of snow along the Interstate 70 and 71 corridors from Cincinnati through Columbus.
Freezing precipitation fell in parts of southern Oklahoma on Thursday morning, prompting officials to postpone high school state football championship games and cities to cancel holiday festivities across the state.
The brunt of the wintry storm bringing snow and ice will be felt overnight and into Friday morning, National Weather Service forecaster Daryl Williams said.
The Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association said the 6A state football title game between Jenks and Union has been rescheduled from Thursday in Stillwater to Dec. 12 in Tulsa. Other games would be rescheduled for next week.
Holiday events during the next few days were also cancelled in several cities.
In Moore, officials canceled the Christmas in Old Town event featuring horse-drawn carriage rides and a tree-lighting ceremony, which was to take place Friday night. City spokesman Jayme Shelton said organizers feared putting residents in potentially unsafe situations.
The storm brought sleet and freezing to the West Texas region on Thursday, coating roads with a layer of thin ice and prompting the postponement of Saturday's Texarkana Bowl.
The freezing precipitation was expected to transition to snow later Thursday. Temperatures in West Texas were expected to stay in the 20s Thursday and Friday.
American Airlines and American Eagle canceled nearly 500 flights Thursday. Fort Worth-based American said the cancellations were a precaution in anticipation of deteriorating travel conditions.
The Texarkana Bowl between Harding University and Texas A&M Commerce was postponed because the area was under an ice-storm warning. Bowl officials and representatives of both schools were working to reschedule the game, which was originally to be held Saturday.
With residents of northwestern Wisconsin digging out from as much as 17 inches of snow, forecasters warned that temperatures in the area could plunge as low as 25 degrees below zero.
Temperatures across north-central Wisconsin were forecast to fall into the single digits above and below zero on Thursday night. They were expected to drop into the minus 20s over the next few days into the middle of next week.
Residents in Laramie and the Shirley Basin endured temperatures of 31 degrees below zero Wednesday night, and high temperatures across the state were forecast to remain in the single digits through the weekend.
Other frigid readings across Wyoming overnight included minus 24 in Rawlins, minus 22 in Casper and Pinedale and minus 19 in Cheyenne.
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