WASHINGTON – A shivering United States welcomed 2018 with a cold wave blanketing almost the entire country, breaking records and apparently taking several lives due to the dangerously low temperatures.
The freezing temps have in recent days spread across practically the whole US, in many locations breaking records that have stood for decades.
At least three deaths in Wisconsin and North Dakota have been attributed to the below-zero temperatures.
One 99-year-old low temperature record was broken in Aberdeen, South Dakota, when the mercury plunged on Monday to -36 C (-33 F).
An even longer-standing low temp record from 1884 was broken in Nebraska, when thermometers dropped to -26 C (-15 F) on Dec. 31 in Omaha, where the situation caused authorities to postpone the fireworks display that had been scheduled to usher in the new year, local media reported.
In northeastern Nevada, wind temperatures dipped to -50 C (-58 F) as part of the cold wave reaching down to Texas, where during the night it began to snow.
In some of the country’s larger cities, conditions were little better, with New York registering one of its coldest yearend’s ever as people in Times Square “watched the ball drop” at midnight on Dec. 31 amid -12 C (10 F) temperatures, although that was several degrees above the record low of -17 C (1 F) recorded on that date in 1917.
Washington DC fared similarly, with families walking on the large – but frozen-over – reflecting pool before the Lincoln Memorial in the Mall, while the surface of the nearby Potomac River was also frozen.
The National Weather Service reported on its Twitter account that the Arctic air mass will bring a prolonged period of temperatures far below normal, with dangerous cold currents across the central and eastern parts of the country in the coming week.
Although the mercury hasn’t fallen as far in the southern and western US, an aquatic theme park in Orlando, Florida, had to close for the day on Jan. 1 due to the low temps.