The arctic cold that locked the U.S. Midwest in a deep freeze, spread ice across the South and grounded thousands of flights will leave the Northeast with a dusting of snow before it exits into the Atlantic.
Heavy snow will probably fall through the night from South Carolina to southern Virginia, the National Weather Service said. Snow may coat the ground from New Jersey to Boston.
“In the Carolinas, it’s going to be mainly a snow event,” said Alex Sosnowski, a meteorologist with AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania. “Farther north, this storm is going to fight dry air. There will be anything from a few flakes to a dusting from D.C. up to Boston.”
Across the U.S., 3,058 flights were canceled as of 3:45 p.m. New York time, according to FlightAware, a Houston-based tracking service. Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International, Houston’s Bush Intercontinental and Chicago’s O’Hare International were among the hardest-hit airports.
Traffic into and out of New Orleans’ Louis Armstrong International was halted, according to the airport’s website. Birmingham International Airport in Alabama was closed for several hours, the Federal Aviation Administration website said.
The snow and ice glazed highways and closed bridges from Texas to Virginia and snow may fall as far south as New Orleans, though it isn’t expected to accumulate, said Danielle Manning, a weather service meteorologist in Slidell, Louisiana.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant declared states of emergency. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu also declared an emergency, which he said may last through Jan. 30. Parts of Interstates 10 and 49 were closed in Louisiana, according to the state’s Department of Transportation and Development.
“It’s a rare event, the last time New Orleans saw snow was 2008,” Manning said by telephone.
Icing along the Gulf is expected to taper off later today while snow builds overnight from central South Carolina to Virginia, where as much as 10 inches (25 centimeters) may fall, said Sosnowski.
Southern New Jersey, the eastern tip of Long Island and Cape Cod in Massachusetts may get some light, fluffy snow, Sosnowski said. The weather service said as much as 4 inches may fall after midnight and into the early morning in Long Island and New Jersey.
“Compared to what we have had this year, it will be a drop in the bucket,” Sosnowski said.
While the storm moves up the East Coast, cold will keep its grip on the Midwest. Chicago and Minneapolis closed schools today because of the cold, according to system websites.
The temperature at Chicago’s Midway Airport dipped to minus 11 (minus 24 Celsius) before climbing to 2 by midafternoon, the weather service said. Wind chill warnings stretched from North Dakota to western New York.
The wind in Chicago will make temperatures feel as cold as minus 40, the weather service said.
“This will result in frostbite and lead to hypothermia and death if precautions are not taken,” the agency said.
Temperatures dropped to 13 in New York’s Central Park and 14 at Reagan National Airport in Washington.
The cold along the East Coast will be short-lived, said Rob Carolan, founder of Hometown Forecast Services Inc. in Nashua, New Hampshire. By the weekend, when the National Football League’s Seattle Seahawks meet the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, temperatures should be near freezing, he said.
Highs will be in the 60s and possibly the 70s across much of the South, Carolan said.
January is on track to be the coldest month of the 21st century in the contiguous U.S. in terms of natural gas-weighted heating-degree days. While temperatures may moderate as February starts, that month may also end up colder than normal, said Matt Rogers, president of Commodity Weather Group LLC in Bethesda, Maryland.
Rogers predicts February will have a gas-weighted heating-degree days value of 850, the fourth-highest for the month since 2001. The value is calculated by subtracting the average temperature from a base of 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18 Celsius) and giving more emphasis to those areas that burn natural gas.
February 2007 was the highest, with a value of 904.8, Rogers said. The five-year average is 773.9 and last year it was 794.8.
Natural gas for February delivery rose 18.6 cents, or 3.8 percent, to settle at $5.033 per million British thermal units p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange as the winter storm moved across the South. About 49 percent of U.S. homes use gas for heating, according to the Energy Information Administration.
Average or higher-than-usual temperatures are forecast to extend from Florida to Maine from Feb. 1 through Feb. 10 after the frigid weather this week, Commodity Weather Group said.