More than 50 dead as freezing temperatures expected to linger

Snow ended in large parts of the U.S. beleaguered by days of Arctic weather but freezing temperatures will remain for millions over the weekend, forecasters warned Friday, as the number of dead in weather-related incidents grew.

Wind chill alerts early Saturday stretched from Montana to Florida and freeze alerts were in effect across the South and Gulf Coast. Intense lake-effect snow up to 2 inches an hour were possible in northwest Indiana, the National Weather Service said.

Temperatures early Saturday and Saturday night in traditional hot spots such as Shreveport, Louisiana; Jackson, Mississippi; Birmingham, Alabama; and Atlanta are set to dip into the low 20s or teens.

“Atlanta will feel more like Canlanta this weekend!” the weather service there said on X, with a picture of a Canadian flag. Wind chills in the single digits were forecast Saturday morning.

In Tennessee, the number of dead from weather-related incidents grew to 19 as more were reported. Overall, at least 59 deaths across the U.S. since Jan. 12 have been confirmed weather-related, according to an NBC count of official reports.

Nine deaths have been reported in Oregon, six in Illinois and Mississippi, five in Washington state and Kentucky, three in New York state, two in Louisiana and one each in Arkansas, Wisconsin, Wyoming and New Hampshire, according to local and state officials.

All state offices in Tennessee were closed Friday because of the dangerous winter weather, officials said.

The Nashville Department of Transportation and Multimodal Infrastructure bluntly told Music City residents to stay home, saying Friday’s icy road conditions are the worst yet of this weeklong cold snap.

“If you do drive, assume every road is icy, even when it appears clear,” the agency said.

Wayne County, Tennessee, Sheriff Shane Fisher injected some humor into his serious message for drivers to be careful navigating ice-slicked conditions. His office posted surveillance footage of the sheriff falling on ice after getting out of a truck.

“Don’t become a statistic!” according to the message. “Note — no animals were harmed in making this video.”

Cities like Knoxville, in eastern Tennessee, typically only get about four inches of snow for the entire season. In less than two days, 8 inches of snow have been dumped on the city.

“I know there are a lot of people that don’t own shovels in East Tennessee because you don’t expect to have to,” said Mark Nagi, a Tennessee Department of Transportation spokesperson.

On top of the snow, there is the deep freeze, which has exposed vulnerabilities and contributed to the large number of weather-related deaths in the state. Although interstates have been cleared, many neighborhoods maintained by cities or counties are still packed in with ice and snow.

The homeless population in Tennessee was in danger from the cold, and the state’s warming centers were filled to capacity. The wind chill in Knoxville was 8 degrees around 1 a.m., and the mercury in Nashville was headed to single digits.

Michael Wrinkle, who has been operating a homeless ministry in Knoxville for nine years, described “seeing frozen tears to people’s faces.”

In western New York, residents have been buried under snow for several days.

Michael Santoro, who lives just south of Buffalo in Hamburg, said he’s been spending almost five hours a day in his driveway plowing and shoveling to keep up with the relentless snowfall this week.

“Anyone of these snow mounds could be a car,” he said, gesturing to a car in his driveway completely engulfed by snow. “You have to really be careful when you’re driving through here.”

Snow fell across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, and freezing temperatures prompted warnings about icy roads, including black ice.

  • Philadelphia got 4.6 inches of snow Friday, and while it was cold and icy in the city, it wasn’t as cold as 30 years ago, which is the last time it was below zero there, the weather service said. “Very cold and blustery conditions” were in store for the weekend, it said.

  • Snow also fell in New York City on Friday, with Central Park seeing 0.4 inches, forecasters said. Upton, New York, got a little more than 1 inch.

  • Boston had a wind chill of 7 degrees late Friday and early Saturday, and was warned that the wind chill could be zero Saturday night, as arctic air filtered in behind departing light snow, the weather service said.

  • There was heavy snowfall from Thursday into Friday afternoon north of Washington, D.C., with 6 inches hitting Clayton, Delaware, and 5.4 inches coming down on Columbia, Maryland. Baltimore had endured 4.1 inches of snowfall in this latest winter blast.

Swaths of Texas and Louisiana had been shivering since the last weekend, before they got a respite of warmth and then went back to freezing Friday.

Residents of Dallas and Amarillo in Texas, and Shreveport, Louisiana, enjoyed comfortable high temperatures of 60, 65 and 63 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively, Thursday. Those same communities were back under blankets Friday as the mercury dipped to 24, 31 and 41 degrees, respectively.

Winter temperatures across the eastern United States will be low throughout the weekend, but there’s hope for warmer times by Monday.

It won’t get above freezing in New York City all weekend. But it could reach 37 degrees by Monday and into the 50s a week from now.

Bostonians will have to bundle up for high temps only making the low 20s Saturday before it reaches conditions similar to New York City by next week.

Sunnier days are also headed to the Midwest where high temps in St. Louis and Chicago won’t get above 17 and 14 degrees Saturday. But the mercury should reach the high 30s and low 40s by the end of next week.

By Tuesday, highs across the eastern part of the country will be above average.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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