OKLAHOMA, Dec 9: A deadly winter storm that drove parts of the United States into a deep freeze over the weekend kept a tight grip on the nation on Monday, as bitter temperatures, snow and ice spread across the East Coast, snarling traffic and knocking out power to thousands.

As much as 5 inches of snow were forecast for Monday night and Tuesday for an area stretching from Virginia into New York, the National Weather Service (NWS) said.

Meanwhile, dangerously cold temperatures and wind chills were forecast to persist in the western half of the United States, the weather service said, with temperatures about 10 to 30 degrees below average from the Rockies to the Great Lakes and lower Mississippi Valley.“I don’t think things are going to warm up anytime soon,” said Bruce Sullivan, National Weather Service meteorologist.

Thousands of homes and businesses were without power on Monday morning, and thousands of flights were delayed as snow and ice covered roads, highways and airport runways from Texas and Oklahoma east to Virginia and north through Pennsylvania.

Northern Maryland received 7 to 10 inches of snow over the weekend, while central and eastern Pennsylvania got 4 to 10 inches, and parts of New York received up to 10 inches through Monday morning. Sleet and freezing rain also pummelled the area, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).

The Arctic effect was widespread, stretching from the west coast to the east. The temperature in Jordan, Montana, fell to 42 degrees below zero Fahrenheit (minus 41 degrees Celsius) on Saturday, the lowest US temperature recorded during the storm.

Among other lows, Burns, Oregon, in the northern part of the state, hit a record minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit on Sunday, said Sullivan.

Minneapolis was forecast hitting a high of 1 degree Fahrenheit (minus 17.2 Celsius), with wind chill values as low as minus 21 degrees.

On one stretch of highway near Philadelphia, more than 50cars and trucks were caught in a series of chain-reaction crashes on the Pennsylvania Turnpike on Sunday afternoon. One man was killed

when he left his vehicle after the crashes, officials said.

AAA Mid-Atlantic, the auto group, said it pulled 109 vehicles out of snow and ice in Pennsylvania on Sunday, compared with three the week before.

5-YEAR-OLD DIES: At least three people were killed in weather-related car accidents in Arkansas and Tennessee as well, authorities said.

Virginia officials warned drivers of hazardous travel conditions, said Laura Southard, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Emergency Management.

The winter storm claimed at least two lives in Oklahoma, including a 5-year-old boy who died after a van he was riding in flipped on an iced-over bridge on Dec 5, authorities said. A homeless man in Oklahoma City also died, succumbing to the cold beneath an overpass also on Dec 5, according to police.

The heavy snow and harsh conditions were on display during Sunday’s National Football League match up between the Philadelphia Eagles and Detroit Lions in Philadelphia.

At times it was nearly impossible to see the game from his seat in the upper deck of Lincoln Financial Field, said Eagles season ticket holder Pete Peters.“For the first half of the game it was a complete white out,” Peters said. “I was shivering, my teeth were chattering by the fourth quarter.” While he was at the game, Peters’ wife and daughter were stranded at the Philadelphia airport when their flight to Orlando was cancelled.

COLD PERSISTS IN SOUTH, CENTRAL US: Frigid temperatures persisted in the nation’s midsection on Monday morning, and travel was snarled in airports and along road ways due to icy conditions.

More than 1,600 flights were cancelled nationwide on Monday, according to tracking website Flightaware.com, with “excessive delays” reported at Boston’s Logan International Airport, Chicago’s O’Hare International, and Philadelphia International airport, among others.

About 650 travellers were stranded overnight in the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport overnight Sunday, officials said. Still, that was an improvement from the more than 2,000 people who were forced to sleep on cots and chairs on Saturday night and 4,000 people stranded in the airport on Friday night.—Reuters

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