A dangerous winter storm hit the northern United States on Friday, bringing blinding snow in some places, freezing rain in others, and bitterly cold temperatures and gusty winds in many states.
The massive storm continues a week of severe winter weather for much of the United States, leading to deadly avalanches and treacherous snow-covered roads. On Friday, one person was believed to have died in an avalanche in the Idaho backcountry. One person died in a snowstorm in Wisconsin.
A man in a Chicago suburb has died of exposure to the cold, officials said Friday, making it the first cold-related death of the season. The Cook County Medical Examiner's Office said the man, whose identity has not been released, was found Thursday in suburban Schiller Park.
An autopsy performed Friday determined the man's death was weather-related, and the medical examiner's office ruled it an accident.
Flight cancellations were widespread, with US airlines canceling more than 2,000 flights, according to flight tracking website FlightAware. More than 7,000 flights were delayed.
Two people were rescued after being trapped in an avalanche Thursday afternoon near the Montana border in Idaho, but a third person is missing and presumed dead. The US Air Force assisted in search and rescue operations. The area was under avalanche warning for several days.
Idaho's first U.S. avalanche death of the avalanche season came a day after one reported in California on Wednesday. Four people were swept away and one died in an avalanche at Lake Tahoe ski resort.
In Wisconsin, the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office said Friday afternoon that it was investigating the death of a 69-year-old man due to snow in the Milwaukee suburb of Franklin. No further information has been released.
A blizzard warning was issued for parts of southwestern Minnesota and the Green Bay area of Wisconsin. Forecasters for the Milwaukee area called for heavy snow to continue into Saturday morning, with wind gusts of up to 40 mph (64 km/h).
Michigan residents were left without power as a result of the storm. More than 130,000 customers were without power, according to the PowerOutage monitoring website.
It was cold in the Dakotas. It was -11F (-24C) in Bismarck, North Dakota on Friday morning, and forecasters warned the weekend could get even worse, saying it could reach -20F (-29C) by early Sunday.
Chicago will see several inches of snow over the weekend, with wind chills below zero. Advocates are concerned about the growing population sent from the U.S.-Mexico border — more than 26,000 have arrived since last year. On Friday, dozens stayed in eight parked “warming buses” to avoid sleeping outside while waiting for space in city-run shelters.
Angelo Traviso, a Venezuelan who boarded a bus from Texas, wore a light jacket and sandals with socks after falling asleep on one of the buses.
“I sat up and slept because there was almost no space,” he said. “The buses are also small and you practically have to stay inside because of the heat because it's bitterly cold outside.”
Mayor Brandon Johnson said the plan to enforce a 60-day stay for asylum seekers will be suspended until at least Jan. 22 because of the cold weather.
Temperatures were below 0F across Montana Friday morning, with wind chills as low as -57F (-49C) along the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains and in the central part of the state.
At Double Cross Cattle Company near Roberts, Montana, Tyson Robb uses an ax to cover inches of ice so his bulls can drink. He used a feed truck to spread extra hay to his cows, a process he planned to repeat later Friday.
Temperatures were expected to drop to -28F (-33C) overnight, so Ropp said he was spreading hay on the ground somewhere out of the wind to keep cattle resting and dry.
“It's going to be really cold tonight,” he said, “and we've got a couple of hidey holes to go in and lie down and huddle together and keep warm.”
Rob stopped cold.
“This is Montana,” he said.
Other parts of the North East have also been hit by floods. Early Friday, emergency responders helped evacuate some residents in Paterson, New Jersey, from their homes as the Passaic River overflowed its banks. The new storm, which combined earlier in the week, created flooding concerns in Maine and New Hampshire.
The south is not immune. Severe storms with winds of 70 mph (113 km/h) across Mississippi.
Arctic air is expected to move south by the end of this week. The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency urged residents to prepare for ice, freezing temperatures and possible extended power outages. Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry declared a state of emergency on Friday, predicting plummeting temperatures over the weekend and snow and sleet early next week.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Friday encouraged residents of that state to prepare as well. Temperatures will only reach the 30s Sunday through Tuesday, with snow in the forecast for Monday. But the cold and snow will be “nothing close to what we experienced during Winter Storm Uri,” Abbott said. That storm in February 2021 left more than 3 million Texans without power.
In many places, volunteers and city leaders were concerned about the lack of housing.
Portland, Oregon, is more accustomed to winter rain, but snow was in the forecast. Tyrone McDault wore a long-eared, cheetah-style hat Thursday as he sorted through warm clothes at a homeless service center. He was already wearing several layers, but without a roof of his own, he grabbed two more coats to help him face the harsh northwesterly cold.
“I hope I can get a shelter,” he said. “That would relieve a lot of the burden.”