Arctic blast grips eastern US as cities reach record low temperatures

At least five died on icy roads while snowfall records shattered and forecasters predicted a brutal winter

From a frozen-over Niagara Falls to record low temperatures, the arctic blast that struck the midwest is now tightening its grip on the eastern US as forecasters predict the possibility of a brutal winter with potentially long periods of numbing temperatures and deep snow.

At least five people died on icy roads, including an eight-year-old girl in Kansas. Sleet-slicked roads caused a 50-car pileup near Youngstown, Ohio, that left two people critically injured.

Meanwhile, snowfall records shattered across the north-east and Great Lakes. In Buffalo, New York, nearly nine inches of snow broke a 77-year old record. Parts of northern Michigan saw upwards of 30 inches of snowfall.

In Chicago, the Sun-Times reported, temperatures dropped to 14F (-10C) Monday night, breaking a record low temperature of 15F (-9.4C) set in 1950.

In New York, temperatures fell to 25F (-3.9C) Tuesday night in Central Park, a new record low temperature for the date. The previous record low was 26F (-3.3C) in 1926.

Overnight, a bus carrying seven passengers landed on its side after the driver lost control just south of Syracuse, New York.

As temperatures dipped to single digits, forecasters projected even lower temperatures for late Wednesday and early Thursday in some locations.

The early freeze, say weather forecasters, is a taste of whats to come this winter. With no signs of the El Nio or La Nia weather phenomenons, the north-east US is placed for cold, arctic air to move south and mild, moist air to move north. When these factors collide, fierce noreaster storms are generated with associated wind, precipitation and coastal erosion and more snow.

Forecasters with NBCs Storm Team 4 said despite more snow and more cold the east coast might get a warmup in December and into early January, before an arctic temperature smackdown in late January through early March.

Record low temperatures for the date were recorded on Tuesday around New York City; Buffalo, New York; Burlington, Vermont; and parts of Ohio. More daily records were broken Wednesday morning in Burlington and parts of Pennsylvania.

To the south, daily records fell on Wednesday across a large swath of the region accustomed to milder weather.

The temperature dropped to 18F (-8C) in Birmingham, Alabama, early Wednesday, breaking the previous low record of 22F (-6C) set in 1911. More than 100 other sites in Alabama also reached historic lows, officials said.

In Greenville, Mississippi, the temperature dropped to 17F (-8C), breaking a record of 23F (-5C) set 108 years ago.

Even the Gulf coast saw temperatures below freezing, producing sea smoke as chilly air moved over warmer water.

The cold air followed heavy snow across a wide swath that proved deadly in some places. In south-western Michigan, a man died on Tuesday after getting trapped beneath machinery he was using to clear snow from his marijuana growing business.

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