Nightly News   |  December 23, 2013

Extreme weather brings frigid temps and record highs

Americans are experiencing icy conditions, flash floods or record-high temperatures depending upon where they live. As thousands sit without power in the Midwest, the East is experiencing unseasonably warm weather. NBC’s John Yang reports.

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>>> and because it's this time of year, weather is back in the news tonight. another big weather system that includes a little bit of everything. temperatures north of 70 here in new york. and to the west of us, snow and ice, even december tornadoes, at a time when so many people are on the move. nbc's john yang is in the thick of it tonight in bath, michigan , up near lansing. john, good evening.

>> good evening, brian. from here in michigan to northern new york to new england, more than 400,000 homes are like this one. dark. no power. utility crews are working as hard as they can hoping to get the lights on by christmas. but in some places in michigan they say it won't be until saturday. in michigan today, more than a quarter million households woke up to another frigid, and dark morning. utility crews are working as fast as they can, but kim and gail avery just can't wait.

>> it's too cold. and he uses a breathing machine at night. and no electricity, he can't use his machine.

>> start taking this stuff.

>> reporter: the averys are packing up a few presents and driving to their daughter's home. it means eight people in a tiny apartment. but at least there's heat.

>> we're just thankful we had a place to go.

>> reporter: today the storm took aim at the northeast, flooding near buffalo, new york. and in maine, ice-covered roads and just about everything else, from trees and bushes, to christmas lights . nationwide today, more than 5,000 flights delayed. at the detroit airport , a delta plane carrying 180 passengers skidded off the taxiway. extreme weather has been blamed for at least a dozen deaths. in oklahoma, three people died in separate car accidents on slick, icy roads. while no one was hurt, shoppers at this oklahoma city mall had to dodge falling sheets of ice. at the same time, 18 states along the east coast saw record high temperatures yesterday. in new york city , skaters at the rockefeller center rink were in shirtsleeves as the mercury hit a balmy 70 degrees. but it's headed back down today.

>> it will be much quieter conditions expected throughout the northeast and the upper midwest . but that is where there will be some snow and it will definitely feel like winter once again.

>> reporter: and with it, the usual winter hazards. like the icy charles river in massachusetts, where a golden retriever was trapped 50 yards from shore. a firefighter was able to pull him to safety. now because of this storm, more than half the country will have snow on the ground wednesday, which, of course, means a