New Year's Eve will be a chilly one for much of the country, even in places that typically pop champagne on the big night in balmy temperatures. Southern California, parts of Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and Texas were all under winter storm warnings, advisories and watches on the last day of the year. Even Southern Arizona and the southern-most part of California were under freeze warnings, according to the National Weather Service.
Las Vegas could see snow and rain Wednesday night and is expected to see a high of only 44 degrees Thursday. Those who have spent a year putting together Las Vegas' fireworks show said the party has not been called off yet, but warned that winds of more than 10 mph could force a postponement. "But we'll be ready to go. The theme this year, is 'don't stop the party,' so we're not going to stop it yet," Phil Grucci, coordinating the show, told NBC station KSNV.
The Rose Parade in Pasadena, California, could beat a record low of 32 degrees and the state's Bay Area was under a high-wind advisory. To the South, Murrieta had already been covered in 3 inches of snow early Wednesday morning, according to Weather.com. Nearby mountainous regions got up to 6 inches of snow, and hundreds of motorists had to be rescued from stranded cars overnight Tuesday, according to NBC Southern California. As of 4:30 a.m. (7:30 a.m. ET), 5,980 customers were without power in Los Angeles County, NBC Southern California reported.
Revelers in Austin, which was under a winter storm warning, would have to wait for their New Year’s Eve celebration, which was postponed in anticipation of an incoming wintry mix. “This decision was made for the safety and comfort of the entire Austin community,” William Manno, the city’s corporate special events manager, said in a statement.
Only 42 degrees is expected for Austin and Albuquerque, New Mexico, will see a high of 34 degrees on New Year’s Eve, while Tulsa, Oklahoma, can hope for at best 29 degrees — all at least 12 degrees below normal.
The chilly forecast follows the coldest day of winter yet for the Lower 48 on Tuesday. In Omaha, Nebraska, where the wind chill was 10 to 20 degrees below zero, authorities said a man was found dead in the street likely killed by exposure, the Omaha World-Herald reported. Meanwhile, high winds in northern California knocked out power to thousands around the Bay Area and falling trees killed two people in separate incidents in the town of Paradise, according to the Oroville Mercury-Register.
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— Phil Helsel, Alexander Smith and Elisha Fieldstadt