Arctic cold wave that will hit much of the US, causing shocking snowfall and frost in the South

(CNN) — The Arctic cold currently blanketing much of the United States will set the stage for shocking snow and ice across parts of the South for the first time this winter as a new storm moves through the region.

The southern storm will be the fourth storm to cause major impacts in areas east of the Rockies in the past two weeks, as the crazy start to 2024 shows no signs of stopping.

This Saturday, snow and wind combined to cause fatalities in Oregon. This Sunday, in Buffalo, New York, there was still lake effect snow; Indiscriminate blizzard may occur in the Northeast; And in the Midwest, high winds continued to blow, causing snow and travel disruptions.

But in the hot South, it’s been all whirlwinds and hurricanes. That’s about to change with the arrival of Arctic cold in the region and much of the country.

More than 75% of the US population will experience cold in the next seven days. By Tuesday alone, more than 250 daily low temperature records could be broken from Oregon to Mississippi. The cold will mean that this Monday, Iowa will have its coldest election day on record, with a high temperature below zero and a wind chill of -22 degrees.

Residents of Dallas, Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee woke up to below zero temperatures this Sunday. The same temperatures will reach Atlanta, Montgomery, Alabama and Shreveport, Louisiana this Tuesday.

Temperatures in southern cities like Memphis, Dallas and Nashville are expected to remain below zero for at least 72 consecutive hours. The National Weather Service office in Jackson, Mississippi, warned that the prolonged cold “could lead to damage to exposed pipes and the possibility of water main breaks.”

cold wave

Credit: CNN Weather

The extreme cold will also test Texas’ power grid, which is highly sensitive to extreme temperatures, for the first time this winter. Falling temperatures will increase demand for electricity on the grid so much that the state’s independent grid operator, ERCOT, issued a weather alert, warning of an imminent increase in demand and a possible depletion of reserves. ERCOT said it expects to have enough power to avoid outages.

A wind chill of -95 degrees was recorded in Montana this Saturday. It won’t feel as cold in the south, but winds of 10 to 25 mph can cause life-threatening chills, causing frostbite on exposed skin in as little as 30 minutes.

Along with the cold air, a new system will move out of the Rocky Mountains and across the southern Plains and bring snow, sleet and freezing rain from Texas to Virginia.

Winter storm warnings stretch from Texas to Virginia and cover more than 45 million people, including all of Tennessee and Arkansas.

“The prolonged nature of this event could result in potentially moderate to significant winter storm impacts over portions of Arkansas, northwest Mississippi and western Tennessee,” the Weather Prediction Center said.

A state of emergency was declared in both Arkansas and Louisiana before the system arrived.

Snow is one of the biggest concerns. Large amounts of sleet and freezing rain are expected from San Angelo, Texas to Huntsville, Alabama. Dangerous ice accumulations can occur on roads, trees and power lines.

And because of the cold, winter precipitation won’t melt slippery winter rain on untreated surfaces for Monday morning commutes in places like Dallas and Shreveport, Louisiana, making trips more dangerous.

Dallas is expected to see a mix of freezing rain, sleet and snow this Sunday from 3 pm to 9 am Monday morning. The calendar tilts to the east a few hours later.

Credit: CNN Weather

The storm will set a blanket of between 2 and 6 inches of snow from Oklahoma to Virginia, where the heaviest snow will fall.

Memphis, which has not seen any measurable snow so far this year, is expected to get between 3 and 7 inches of snowfall. The danger has started from this Sunday night and will continue till Monday night.

Snow accumulations of 2 to 7 centimeters are also expected from Oklahoma City to Tulsa. At least 7 centimeters of rain is expected across almost the entire state of Arkansas, with some locations expecting totals of up to 15 centimeters. 3 to 5 inches of snow accumulation is expected in Nashville and Knoxville, Tennessee.

The storm will clear from the south late Tuesday and then move toward the mid-Atlantic and Northeast, increasing the chance of snowfall there on Wednesday.

CNN meteorologist Sarah Tonks contributed to this report

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