Bitingly Cold Weather Leaves Over 60 Dead Across U.S. as Arctic Blast Blankets Region

A punishing cold snap has left over 60 people dead and brought perilous icy conditions across much of the United States this weekend. Brutal Arctic air has descended over the region, delivering bone-chilling temperatures and heavy snowfall that are expected to linger through Sunday.

The latest fatalities were reported in Mississippi, where the state’s emergency management agency announced two more deaths on Saturday related to a highway incident in rural Leflore County. The deaths bring Mississippi’s weather-related toll to at least eight over the past week, as people succumb to the life-threatening road conditions and extreme cold.

Nationwide, the death count from the punishing weather has climbed to more than 60 people in recent days, with fatalities recorded in states like Tennessee, Oregon, and elsewhere. Forecasters warn that “frostbite and hypothermia are likely with prolonged outdoor exposure,” as wind chills are making it feel as low as -30 degrees Fahrenheit across the Northern Plains.

On Saturday morning, the Midwest and Northeast remained firmly in winter’s grasp. Temperatures plunged into the single digits in Minneapolis and teens in Chicago and St. Louis. In Baltimore, high winds made it feel barely above zero even though readings were in the double digits. Football fans attending the Ravens-Texans playoff game in Baltimore had to bundle up in multiple layers to brave the frigid cold.

Another playoff matchup on Sunday between the Chiefs and Bills promises bone-chilling conditions in Buffalo, where nearly five feet of snow had to be removed from the stadium by hundreds of volunteers.

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Even Southern cities are feeling winter’s sting, with wind chills in the teens in Atlanta and below zero in Nashville. More snow showers are forecast through the weekend in the Great Lakes region, which saw up to 32 inches of snow in parts of Indiana on Friday. Additional accumulation threatens to snarl travel and pile on to the weather misery.

The Pacific Northwest is also reeling, with thousands still without power in Portland following an icy mix. At least nine deaths in Oregon have been linked to the harsh weather, including a downed power line incident that killed three people in Portland but saw a young woman heroically rescue a 9-month-old baby.

The unrelenting cold snap, while expected to ease after the weekend, serves as a reminder of the growing toll extreme weather is taking across an ever-warming planet. Scientists say climate change is increasing the frequency and severity of anomalous weather, from deadly heat waves and droughts to severe winter storms fueled by conditions in the now-unpredictable Arctic.

This blast of icy Arctic wind pummeling the U.S. is just the latest example of previously rare cold-weather extremes becoming more commonplace. While the chilly grip is forecast to loosen next week, communities battered by the heavy snows, icy roads and frigid temperatures are left reeling in its wake. Over 60 lives already lost attest to the mounting human costs of our rapidly changing climate.

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