We’re still 38 days from the official start of winter, but Mother Nature doesn’t care.
More than 215 million people are grappling with bone-chilling weather Wednesday as an Arctic blast grips the eastern two-thirds of the US.
“Freeze warnings continue into the Deep South, with freezing temperatures in Florida this morning,” CNN meteorologist Dave Hennen said.
The deep freeze is wreaking havoc on travel and has contributed to at least five deaths.
But there’s a shred of good news: After another frigid night Wednesday, temperatures will get closer to normal Thursday.
Officials have linked at least 5 deaths to the cold
Treacherous weather likely contributed to fatal crashes in at least two states, authorities said, with more dangerous conditions to come.
In Ohio, a 16-car pileup during a heavy snowfall Tuesday killed a 21-year-old woman, the Ohio State Highway Patrol said. Several other people were hospitalized after the massive crash.
And in Michigan, three people were killed in a crash Monday during “very poor road conditions,” the Eaton County Sheriff’s Office said.
In Chicago, an 80-year-old man died as a result of cardiovascular disease, with cold exposure as a contributing factor, the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office said.
The brutal weather has also grounded flights and left passengers stranded.
More than 410 US flights were canceled for Tuesday and Wednesday, according to FlightAware.com.
The frigid temps crush 108-year-old records
“Hundreds of cold temperature records have been set over the last few days, including some dating back over a century to 1911,” Hennen said.
More could be shattered Wednesday in the central and eastern US, the National Weather Service said.
And by Thursday morning, the Mid-Atlantic region to Maine could suffer record-low temps, CNN meteorologist Michael Guy said.
The NWS compared this Arctic outbreak to the 1911 “Blue Norther.” Within a day, record-breaking cold temps in the 20s were followed by record-warm temperatures near 80 degrees for much of the Plains to the East Coast.
While this week’s temperatures will rise across much of the country Thursday, they’ll still be 10 to 20 degrees below average, Guy said.