Arctic blast brings below-zero temps, blinding snow to millions across US

Every state in the country is under some sort of weather advisory this weekend as a polar vortex sends an arctic blast across much of America.

A little over 1,000 flights in the U.S. had been canceled as of 9:30 a.m. EST Saturday, with another 1,243 delayed, according to Flight Aware. Airlines canceled more than 1,900 flights on Friday.

It’s so cold in Kansas City, Saturday night’s NFL wild card game between the Chiefs and the Dolphins may be among the top 5 coldest NFL games ever played. In Buffalo, the Bills organization is paying $20 an hour for people to clear snow ahead of Sunday’s playoff game against Pittsburgh. Fans there can expect up to a foot of snow.

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Intense winter weather in Iowa has forced GOP presidential candidates to shuffle their schedules ahead of Monday’s caucus. 


A group of people clear snow off a sidewalk on January 12, 2024 in Des Moines, Iowa. The second winter weather system in a week is bringing blizzard conditions across Iowa as voters prepare for the Republican Party of Iowas presidential caucuses on J

'How cold will it get?

By Saturday morning, temperatures in the western U.S. are expected to plummet. The Puget Sound region in and around Seattle is seeing its coldest morning in decades, while cities like Missoula and Billings in Montana and Casper in Wyoming could see temps between 20 and 30 degrees below zero.

"Including wind chill, temperatures will fall below minus 30 over a large area running from the northern Rockies to northern Kansas, with minus 50 possible across the Dakotas," the National Weather Service said Saturday.

Kansas City, Missouri, where the wild card game will be played, could see wind chills of 14 degrees below zero, FOX Weather reports.

In the county that includes Portland, Oregon, which is more used to winter rain than ice and snow, officials declared a weather emergency and opened severe weather shelters for the homeless, the Associated Press reports. The county and non-profit groups this week distributed thousands of jackets, gloves, ponchos and other items.

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In California, a warning of high avalanche danger was issued for parts of the Sierra Nevada, including the Lake Tahoe area, where an avalanche at a ski resort killed one man on Wednesday. The same was true in Idaho, where a man was presumed dead in an avalanche Thursday.


An airplane takes off during blizzard conditions at O'Hare Airport on January 12, 2024 in Chicago, Illinois. Over 1,900 flights have been canceled nationwide due to a large winter storm bringing blizzard conditions. (Photo by Jim Vondruska/Getty Imag

"EVERY state in the US has an active NWS watch, warning, or advisory," the NWS announced Friday as it posted a color-coded map that showed portions of states under threat from storms, winds, floods, blizzards and avalanches.

Dallas, Texas; Little Rock, Arkansas; Memphis, Tennessee, and Nashville, Tennessee, are some of the major cities prepping for possible ice and snow that will start Sunday and move east.

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In the Upper Midwest, a powerful winter storm that caused widespread power outages is winding down, but the snow isn’t over yet. The Great Lakes region will still see heavy snowfall because of significant lake-effect snow bands. 

How long will the dangerous cold last?


Plains forecast (FOX Weather)

According to FOX Weather, it’s still unclear how long the polar vortex will impact temperatures in the U.S. beyond a week.

"There are indications that even this minor warming may help reinforce the chances of colder weather patterns in some areas over the next couple of weeks -- stay tuned!"  Amy Butler of NOAA's Chemical Sciences Laboratory wrote in a blog post this week.

The Associated Press and FOX Weather contributed to this report.