MILWAUKEE — Bone-chilling cold gripped much of the central U.S. as 2018 began Monday, breaking century-old records, icing over some New Year’s celebrations and leading to at least two deaths attributed to exposure to the elements.
The National Weather Service issued wind chill advisories covering a vast area from South Texas to Canada and from Montana and Wyoming through New England. Dangerously low temperatures enveloped much of the Midwest.
Temperatures plunged below zero elsewhere in the Midwest, including in Aberdeen, S.D., where the mercury dropped to a record-breaking -32. The previous New Year’s Day record had stood for 99 years.
In Nebraska, temperatures hit 15 below zero before midnight Sunday in Omaha, breaking a record low dating to 1884.
It was colder in Des Moines, Iowa, where city officials closed a downtown outdoor ice skating plaza and said it wouldn’t reopen until the city emerged from sub-zero temperatures. The temperature hit 20 below zero (early Monday, with the wind chill dipping to negative 31 degrees.
In northeastern Montana, the wind chill readings dipped as low as minus 58 . And in Duluth, Minn., a city known for its bitter-cold winters, the wind chill dipped to 36 below zero .
Plunging overnight temperatures in Texas brought rare snow flurries as far south as Austin, and accidents racked up on icy roads across the state. In the central Texas city of Abilene, the local police chief said more than three dozen vehicle crashes were reported in 24 hours.
In the Deep South, frozen pipes and dead car batteries were concerns from Louisiana to Georgia as overnight temperatures in the teens were predicted across the region by Monday night.
The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office said two bodies found Sunday showed signs of hypothermia: a man in his 50s found on the ground in an alley and a 34-year-old man.