March madness: Heavy snow, bitter cold roll across nation as winter storm descends
A wave of harsh weather rolled across the nation Sunday, driving heavy snow from California's Sierra Nevada to New England and creating deadly tornadoes in the Southeast.
The latest in a series of recent, massive storms conspired with a fresh push of Arctic air to trigger bone-chilling temperatures that could loiter deep into the week, AccuWeather said.
"This is quite a powerful storm as it pushes west to east," AccuWeather senior meteorologist Alan Reppert said. "Behind that we are going to see much colder temperatures coming in that are likely to hang around for a while."
By Monday night, parts of Pennsylvania and New England could see a foot of snow, Reppert said.
Tornadoes hit Alabama, Georgia and Florida Sunday afternoon, killing at least 14 people in Lee County Alabama, according to the sheriff. Minor injuries were also reported in Georgia and in Florida, debris from a tornado forced part of a highway to close.
The severe weather was expected to last into the evening, with tornado watches ending by 11 p.m. AccuWeather said areas hit by tornadoes can expect drier, colder weather Monday.
The storm roared through parts of California late last week; areas of the Sierra Nevada were pummeled by several feet of snow. Statewide, the Sierra Nevada snowpack is 153 percent of average for the time of year because of "several atmospheric rivers" during February, the California Department of Water Resources reported.
The state is coming off years of drought.
“This winter’s snowpack gets better each month and it looks like California storms aren’t done giving yet,” said department Director Karla Nemeth, who added that "this is shaping up to be an excellent water year.”
On Saturday, Colorado and Wyoming were among areas hit hardest; 32 inches of snow fell in Mount Zirkel, Colorado. Denver got about 6 inches; Chicago could see up to 7 inches of snow and sleet by Monday.
In Missouri, a tractor-trailer crash on an icy Interstate 44 shut down a westbound section of the highway in Franklin County for two hours Sunday.
In the Philadelphia area, the weather service warned of "hazardous conditions" from snow sometimes mixed with sleet that could fall at up to an inch an hour. The city itself could see up to 10 inches of wintry mix, making Monday's morning rush challenging.
Boston's Public Works Department said it had 300 pieces of equipment out clearing streets and pleaded with residents who must travel to allow crews time and space to operate "safely and effectively."
Behind the storm: bitter cold. Wind chill temperatures in the minus 30s were forecast Monday in Estherville, Iowa. In Illinois, the weather service warned that wind chills in the northern part of the state could fall to minus 28 degrees by Monday morning.
"Cold air is here with more incoming," the weather service in Chicago tweeted. "Deep snow cover upstream in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa is helping to sustain the cold air mass."
The weather service said temperatures across much of Michigan will fall up to 30 degrees below normal, possibly into Wednesday. Parts of Pennsylvania, New York and northern and western New England could see up to a foot of snow.
As the cold sweeps east, low temperatures in the teens were forecast for parts of Virginia on Tuesday and Wednesday. Mardi Gras could be chilly in New Orleans. AccuWeather warned that a a string of springlike days is wrapping up, and unusually chilly weather is expected to descend upon the city just in time for "Fat Tuesday," the last day before the Christian season of Lent.
Temperatures have soared into the mid-70s for the past several days. But temperatures are predicted to be in the upper 40s for the first parades of Mardi Gras on Tuesday morning, "so anyone heading out will want to dress warmly," AccuWeather said.
Contributing: Kristin Lam, USA TODAY
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: March madness: Heavy snow, bitter cold roll across nation as winter storm descends