A recent cold snap across the U.S. has claimed 13 lives so far, and more frigid temperatures are on the way.
Below freezing and subzero temperatures have gripped much of the Eastern and Midwestern U.S. for the past several days. The frigid conditions stretch from North Dakota to Chicago and on to Maryland, New York City and Boston. Some cities are opening warming centers as temps plunge below zero and schools remain closed.
New York City opened nine warming centers this week and urged residents to check in on each other, as well as to report heat loss and stay with friends or family if possible. Chicago has six warming centers open. Health officials across the region are warning residents of frostbite and hypothermia conditions while passing on tips about how to best protect oneself in cold weather.
"The City has ramped up all of its efforts to protect people from the brutal cold conditions we are experiencing," said New York City Office of Emergency Management Commissioner Joe Bruno in a news release. "But we can't do it all, so New Yorkers should check on their neighbors, particularly the elderly, and not hesitate to call for help if they see someone in need."
City officials are also warning residents about the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning. "Make sure all fuel-burning items - such as furnaces, boilers, hot water heaters, and clothes dryers - are operating properly, ventilated and regularly inspected by a professional in order to prevent unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning," warned one New York City bulletin.
Cold and snowy conditions forced flight cancellations at airports and caused numerous deadly traffic accidents in multiple states. Parts of upstate New York are receiving lake effect snowfalls in excess of one to two feet. The cities of Oswego and Parish, N.Y., have received more than 50 inches of snow since the weekend. More snow is expected Wednesday night.
An overnight snowstorm dumped two to five inches of snow across Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Maryland. Isolated areas received upwards of six to seven inches. The snow closed many schools and businesses, while also snarling traffic.
Projected temperatures in locations such as Chicago, Detroit and Philadelphia not expected to rise above 10 degrees Wednesday. Forecasters say the frigid temperatures will stick around for some time, too.
"We really don't see any prolonged relief in sight," said Tom Kines, meteorologist for AccuWeather. "There might be a day or so down the road when temperatures get close to normal, but in general the next couple weeks will be cold."
Kines said the cold stretch can be blamed on the move of the weakening of El Nino and the movement south of the jet stream - strong westerly winds in the upper atmosphere. "Earlier in the year the jet stream was very far north, and that's typical in El Nino years. It separates the cold air from the warm air, the south side of the jet stream will have warmer weather. Obviously the jet stream has pushed south and we're now on the cold side of it.
"Mother Nature always has a way of balancing things out. It was warm in the first part of winter and obviously you can't stay warm like that forever."
Kines added that the change from the warm to the cold will most likely make the winter season's average overall temperature look normal, even though the season wasn't all that normal.
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