Millions of Americans face below-zero temperatures as storms bring blast of Arctic air, snow and ice

A worker on Sunday helps remove snow from Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/ Jeffrey T. Barnes)

PORTLAND, Ore. — Subfreezing temperatures across much of the U.S. left millions of Americans facing dangerous cold as Arctic storms left four dead and knocked out electricity to tens of thousands in the Northwest, brought snow to the South, and walloped the Northeast with blizzard conditions that forced the postponement of an NFL game.

An estimated 95 million people nationwide faced weather warnings or advisories Sunday for wind chills below zero Fahrenheit (minus 17 Celsius). Forecasters said the severe cold was expected to push as far south as northern Texas while the bitter blast sends wind chill readings as low as minus 70 degrees (minus 56 Celsius) in Montana and the Dakotas.


“It takes a matter of minutes for frostbite to set in,” the South Dakota Department of Public Safety said in a statement Sunday urging people to stay indoors.

In Buffalo, New York, where snowfall of 1 to 2 feet (30 to 60 centimeters) was forecast, severe conditions led officials to postpone the Buffalo Bills-Pittsburgh Steelers NFL playoff game from Sunday to Monday. Winds whipped at 30 mph (48 kph), and snow was falling at a rate of 2 inches (5 centimeters) per hour.

Workers with shovels and trucks worked to clear snow from the field at Buffalo’s Highmark Stadium as the Bills warned volunteers eager to help with the shoveling to stay at home and not defy a travel ban on area roads.

“Looks like a pretty good day to not have a football game,” New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Buffalo native, posted on X with a video clip of whiteout conditions in the western New York city.

At least one Bills player was out in the bad weather Sunday putting his newfound free time to good use. Offensive tackle Ryan Van Demark shared a video on Instagram showing fellow lineman Alec Anderson helping a motorist struggling with icy road conditions.

“Good Samaritan, Alec, helping the people,” Van Demark narrates on the brief clip.

Zack Taylor, a National Weather Service meteorologist in College Park, Maryland, warned some parts of the Northeast would see intense snowfall and extreme winds.

“That’s why they’re expecting to see near-blizzard conditions at times,” Taylor said.

Across the country in Oregon, more than 130,000 homes and businesses were without electricity, most of them in the Portland metro area, a day after high winds and a mix of snow and ice brought down trees and power lines.

“Given the extent of the damage and the high level of outage events, restoration efforts will continue into the week and customers are encouraged to plan accordingly,” Portland General Electric said in a statement. The utility said it was watching a second weather pattern that could bring high winds and freezing rain on Tuesday.

The City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services said its crews were working non-stop at multiple locations to make emergency repairs and prevent sewage releases into homes and businesses. Portland’s largest sewage pump station, which serves downtown and the surrounding inner city, was under partial service due to a frozen pipe.

Widespread power outages affecting tens of thousands were also reported Sunday in Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. In Nebraska, the Omaha Public Power District asked customers to conserve electricity to prevent outages.

Airports across the country were impacted. More than half of flights into and out of Buffalo Niagara International Airport were canceled. Scores of flights also were canceled or delayed at Chicago, Denver and Seattle-Tacoma airports.

Forecasters also warned that rapid bursts of heavy snow and wind could cause drastic and sudden drops in visibility in eastern Pennsylvania and parts of northern New Jersey and Delaware.

Another Arctic storm that’s dumped heavy snowfall in the Rockies was forecast to push further south, potentially bringing 4 inches to 6 inches (10 to 15 centimeters) of snow to parts of Arkansas, northern Mississippi and west Tennessee.

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