After a weekend of weather that was anything but a winter wonderland, the nation braced for another round of brutally low temperatures and severe storms today.
“It’s almost been like a roller coaster,” said meteorologist Greg Forbes, describing the combination of thunderstorms, flooding, heavy snows, and even record high temperatures in parts of the country.
Highways and roads were closed in Wyoming this morning , while in Illinois, locals prepared for up to six more inches of snow, and states from Wisconsin to Nebraska to Iowa faced another blast of winter.
“We’re looking at anywhere from 2-4 inches across the southern part of [Iowa] and anywhere from 3-6 inches across the north,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Craig Cogil.
Utility crews across Maine scrambled today to restore power for customers as homes and businesses continued to lose electricity due to high winds which toppled tree limbs across the state.
The Deep South, which was hit over the weekend by severe storms and unusually cold temperatures, faced the prospect of still more snow.
In northern Alabama, bone-chilling cold and icy roads forced officials to close schools.
“It’s unbearable, as far as what you’re used to,” said Michael Chesser, a sheriff’s department dispatcher in Birmingham, Ala.
Tornadoes in the state killed 12 over the weekend (see related story.)
Ice caused scores of accidents and power outages in Georgia, where locals got a rare glimpse of snow.
About 1,500 workers in Louisiana struggled today to restore power to thousands of homes and businesses that lost power last week after an ice storm sent tree limbs crashing onto power lines.
About 13,000 AEP-Swepco electricity customers were still without power in Shreveport and in nearby northwestern Louisiana communities, said utility spokesman Scott McCloud.
And utilities in east Texas said it could be weeks before ice-damaged power lines can be restored.
Boston Runs Hot, Then Cold
While the South grappled with the freeze, Boston hit a record high of 64 degrees.
The warm temperatures were coupled with winds gusting to 50 mph, as well as thunderstorms and flooding. The combination caused power outages across New England and snarled traffic at New York’s La Guardia International Airport for hours.
“It’s just unbelievable. I mean, I’ve been flying in and out of New York for five years now, and this is the worst I’ve ever seen,” said Louten Tanner as he waited for a flight out.
Some meteorologists said the wacky weather is part of a single pattern. “When you get an amplified jet stream like this you do get those contrasts, record cold, record warm adjacent to each other,” said meteorologist Greg Forbes.
Today, the cold of the Midwest is hitting the Northeast, sending the mercury down to more seasonable levels.
“It is unusual,” said Charlie Foley, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Taunton, Mass. “Normally, we don’t start off with the copious amounts of precipitation and the numerous thunderstorms. This is very atypical weather for December.”
Wicked Winter Weekend On Sunday, emergencies were declared in 10 New Jersey and New York communities. In Albany, N.Y., where more than 4.5 inches of rain fell, city schools were closed today because of flood damage. A 15-year-old Boy Scout drowned during a hike through the Catskill Mountains, after he was swept away while trying to cross a flooded stream with other scouts.
Wind and lightning left 9,000 people without power in New Jersey, while heavy rainfall flooded creeks across the state, and wind gusts reached 70 mph in Keansburg, near the New Jersey shore.
The powerful gusts almost toppled a church steeple in New Bedford, Mass., Sunday.
Wind gusting up to 50 mph caused power outages in Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New Hampshire, with a mischievous storm system bringing a combination of record-breaking warm weather, thunderstorms and flooding.
In Montana, two snowmobilers were killed in an avalanche Sunday. Cold temperatures had weakened the early snowpack, and heavier snow fell on top of that base, increasing the risk of avalanches.
A rash of accidents in Wyoming led to the closure of parts of Interstate 80, U.S. 30 and U.S. 85. A 300-mile stretch of Interstate 90 reopened in Minnesota and South Dakota Sunday morning after high winds and blowing snow forced authorities to close it for the night.
“If anybody gets out on the roads, you’re nuts,” said South Dakota Highway Patrol Trooper John Norberg in Sioux Falls.
In Indiana, where wind chill readings in parts of the state reached 30 degrees below zero early Sunday, a man was found dead near Interstate 65, apparently from exposure.
“His car was found on the interstate where it looked like he had slid off. From there it seemed he tried to walk to get help,” said Ryan Batts of the Boone County Sheriff’s Department.
The man was found about three miles from his car and two miles from his home.
In parts of the northern Plains, blowing snow cut visibility to near zero and police urged travelers to stay off the roads.
ABCNEWS’ Liz Cho, ABCNEWS Radio, ABC Affiliate WABC in New York, Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.