PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — An arctic blast that sent shivers across the Midwest spread to the eastern U.S. on Wednesday, with bitter weather establishing new records from Mississippi to Maine.
Cold temperatures that stretched to the Gulf Coast followed a snowstorm that the National Weather Service said contributed to nearly 30% of the country being covered in snow as of Wednesday.
Snowfall and slippery roads were blamed for more than a half-dozen deaths across the country since Monday.
In the Northeast, temperatures dipped to single digits early Wednesday in some communities. Forecasters projected even lower temperatures late Wednesday and early Thursday in some locations.
The frigid airmass was producing mid-winter conditions, even though the calendar says fall and Thanksgiving is still two weeks away, said Mark Bloomer, a meteorologist with National Weather Service in Caribou, Maine.
Record low temperatures for the date were recorded Tuesday in New York City; Buffalo, New York; Burlington, Vermont; and parts of Ohio. More daily records were broken Wednesday morning in Burlington, along with several locations in Pennsylvania.
To the south, daily records fell Wednesday across a large swath of the region accustomed to milder weather.
The temperature dropped to 18 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 8 degrees Celsius) in Birmingham, Alabama, early Wednesday, breaking the previous low record of 22 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 6 degrees Celsius) set in 1911. More than 100 other sites in Alabama also reached historic lows for the day, officials said.
In Greenville, Mississippi, the temperature dropped to 17 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 8 degrees Celsius), breaking a record of 23 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 5 degrees Celsius) set 108 years ago, officials said.
Even the Gulf Coast saw temperatures below freezing, producing “sea smoke” as chilly air moved over warmer water.
The cold air followed heavy snow that reached as far south as Tennessee.
Slippery conditions were blamed for road deaths since Monday in Michigan, Kansas and Ohio. In southwestern Michigan, a man died Tuesday after getting trapped beneath machinery he was using to clear snow from his marijuana grow business.