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Vicious storm triggers historic coastal flooding as Arctic chill tees up the South’s first snow


By Susannah Cullinane, CNN

(CNN) — A vicious storm that smacked the central and eastern US Friday is continuing its assault Saturday with whipping winds and blizzard conditions, rain, snow and dangerous coastal flooding. Meanwhile, a brutal blast of Arctic air is spreading south and east through the central US and will bring snow and ice to the South. Here’s the latest.

Snow squalls expected Sunday in New York City: The New York City Emergency Management Department has issued a Weather Alert for Sunday, warning of an arctic cold front expected to sweep through the region in the early afternoon.

In a statement late Saturday, NYC Emergency Management said snow squalls “could lead to rapid reduction in visibility, gusty winds, and briefly moderate to heavy snow, creating hazardous roadway conditions,” noting the forecast called for wind gusts up to 45 mph in the early afternoon.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams said, “Our teams will be out early salting our streets, and we will continue to monitor the forecast every step of the way. We are also asking that New Yorkers take their own precautions.”

More than 311,000 homes and businesses in the dark: Widespread power outages stretched from the Great Lakes to the South Saturday after intense winds, severe thunderstorms and heavy snow walloped several states. Outages peaked late Saturday afternoon at about 550,000.

More than 182,000 customers are without power in Oregon, and nearly 10,000 in Washington, according to the tracking site

Strong winds on the back side of the storm caused power outages to climb throughout the morning in the Great Lakes. As of 3 a.m. ET, Michigan had the second-most utility customers without power – more than 61,000, followed by more than 57,000 customers cut off in Wisconsin.

Strong winds buffet Northwest: Falling trees have toppled power lines, started fires and shut down transit in Portland, Oregon, as high winds and frigid conditions kept emergency workers busy Saturday. Portland Fire and Rescue reported multiple fires in the community started by fallen trees and power lines.

At least two weather-related deaths have been reported in the Portland area since Saturday, according to fire officials.

One person was killed after an RV occupied by four people caught fire. Portland Fire and Rescue says a fallen tree struck the RV, where a stove was being used for heating, causing the stove to ignite the vehicle. Another person was also injured.

The second death occurred approximately 18 miles outside of Portland in Lake Oswego. A man died after a large tree crashed through the second floor of a home, Lake Oswego Fire Marshal Gert Zoutendijk said in a media release.

Portland’s mayor Ted Wheeler declared a state of emergency Saturday through Wednesday. The city is experiencing winds around 30 mph and subzero wind chills Saturday evening, the National Weather Service in Portland reported.

The city’s transit system announced its rail transit service would be closed Saturday because of the weather.

Historic storm surge hits Maine: Water levels on Maine’s coast hit a historic high on Saturday, inundating coastal communities already swamped by record-breaking surges on Wednesday.

Flash flood warnings were issued by the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine, as the storm’s strong winds blew water from the Atlantic Ocean toward the shore on top of high tide Saturday morning and combined with falling rain to create a dangerous situation.

The water level in Portland hit 14.57 feet just after noon, higher than the 13.84 feet hit on Wednesday, and higher than the previous record set in 1978, National Weather Service data shows.

Portland police said on X that there were “too many” roads closed to list because of the flooding. Roads were also closed in coastal New Hampshire as water levels rose there, according to the state’s department of transportation.

Moderate coastal flooding was also reported in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, NOAA data shows.

Coastal flood alerts remain in effect for several spots throughout the day Saturday for lingering flooding, with most set to expire by the end of the day.

New Jersey floodwaters prompt rescues: In Paterson New Jersey, 20 people were rescued from floodwaters through the night, according to Mayor Andre Sayegh. There are more than 20 streets closures and one bridge closed as streets throughout the city flooded from overnight rainfall from the storm, Sayegh told CNN.

The area remains under a flood warning, according to the National Weather Service. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy visited one area ravaged by floodwaters on Saturday.

“To all impacted communities here in New Jersey, we are here for you and are committed to getting you the help you need from the federal government.” Governor Phil Murphy said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

Buffalo Bills playoff game postponed: The scheduled game between the Bills and Pittsburgh Steelers in Buffalo was moved from Sunday at 1 p.m. to Monday at 4:30 p.m. because of the “dangerous conditions,” New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said on X Saturday.

Strong winds from the storm blowing across an exceptionally warm, ice-free Lake Erie will produce heavy lake-effect snow through Monday morning. One to 3 feet of snow could fall, with the highest totals coming where the bands of snow persist the longest.

“Winds gusting as high as 65 mph early in the event will diminish somewhat late Saturday night. Blizzard conditions will be possible at times, especially Saturday night and Sunday,” the weather service in Buffalo said.

In Erie County, New York, which includes Buffalo, officials have declared a state of emergency starting Saturday due to the incoming storm and snow, county executive Mark Poloncarz announced.

A travel ban was also set to go into effect at 9 p.m. ET Saturday for Erie County to help crews clear the roads given the intense snowfall to come.

Iowa is the epicenter for blizzard conditions and cold: Most of Iowa was under a blizzard warning Saturday as 6 to 10 inches of previous snowfall was whipped up by wind gusts of more than 40 mph. Back-to-back storms hammering the Midwest have resulted in the snowiest week for Des Moines since 1942.

The Iowa State Patrol responded to 535 motorist assist calls and 86 crashes by Saturday afternoon as whiteout conditions pounded the state, the agency said in a social media post.

Bone-chilling cold began to envelop the state and is expected to make for the coldest Iowa caucuses on record Monday. Wind chills as low as minus 45 degrees were forecast by Sunday morning, cold enough to cause frostbite on exposed skin in as little as 10 minutes.

Freezing cold for 75% of the US: It’s not just Iowa, 75% of the country will experience temperatures below freezing over the next 7 days as a potent blast of Arctic air plunges south.

Fifty-five million of them will endure temperatures below zero. The temperatures will feel even colder when coupled with wind. A wind chill of minus 71 degrees was recorded in Navajo, Montana, Saturday morning.

Bitter cold tees up South snow and ice: Temperatures well below average will fully envelop the South and parts of the Southeast by Tuesday.

A new storm system will track through the cold air and start to put out snow, sleet and ice as soon as Sunday afternoon in parts of Oklahoma and Texas.

Any wintry precipitation that falls Sunday will hang around on untreated surfaces because of the cold, making for a potentially treacherous Monday morning commute in places like Dallas.

The system will then leave a shot of modest snow from west to east across Arkansas, northern Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama and into Tennessee. Points to the south are more likely to see ice than snow.

Arkansas looks set to receive some of the most snow from the event. Six inches or more could fall in parts of the state. Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders declared a state of emergency Friday ahead of the bitter cold and snow.

Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry announced a state of emergency in effect from Sunday through Wednesday for the storm and cold as well.

CNN’s Eric Zerkel, Taylor Ward, Mary Gilbert, Allison Chinchar, Holly Yan, Robert Shackelford, Dave Alsup, Joe Sutton, Sara Smart, Zenebou Sylla, Artemis Moshtaghian, Andy Rose and Nicole Grether contributed to this report.

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Article Topic Follows: cnn-weather/environment

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