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Dangerously cold temps blast much of US, keeping schools closed, flights grounded

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Unrelenting frigid temperatures swept through the Rockies, Great Plains, and Midwest on Tuesday, with wind chills plummeting below minus 30 degrees (minus 34.4 Celsius) across the central United States.

The chilling conditions led to widespread power outages, affecting over 85,000 homes and businesses, primarily concentrated in Oregon since the onset of outages on Saturday. Portland General Electric cautioned that freezing rain on Tuesday could impede restoration efforts, prompting concerns about the potential impact on power lines and trees.

In response to the hazardous conditions, transportation authorities issued advisories urging residents to refrain from travel due to the anticipated icy roads. This risk extended to major cities, including Portland, Chicago, Denver, Dallas, and Fort Worth, where classes were canceled on Tuesday, affecting students in the nation’s fourth-largest public school district.

The far-reaching consequences of the storms and bitter temperatures extended beyond disruptions in air travel to impacting NFL playoff games and Iowa’s presidential caucuses. Tragically, several fatalities were reported across the country. In the Portland area alone, four individuals lost their lives, with two succumbing to suspected hypothermia, one perishing as a tree fell on their residence, and another in a fire sparked by an open-flame stove after a tree toppled onto an RV.

In Wisconsin, an investigation into the deaths of three homeless individuals in the Milwaukee area pointed to hypothermia as the likely cause. Meanwhile, freezing rain and sleet persisted into Tuesday morning across portions of the Southeast, triggering winter storm warnings in multiple regions of Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Mississippi, exacerbating the widespread weather-related challenges.

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