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Palm Trees and Snow: Freezing Weather Bites the West

Below Freezing Temperatures Now Blanket 80 Percent of U.S. 3:16

Snow was reported in Las Vegas and temperatures were below freezing for 80 percent of the country Wednesday, bringing a chill that did not dissuade some New Year’s Eve revelers. The day saw the coldest temperature of 2014 anywhere in the Contiguous United States: The small village of Daniel, Wyoming, recorded a bone-chilling 48 degrees below zero — even without the wind chill — according to The Weather Channel.

Rare snow fell in San Diego and other parts of southern California, delighting some, while elsewhere the weather was deadly: Two people were killed by falling trees near Sacramento, and a harbor patrolman and another person died on Catalina off the Los Angeles coast after winds ripped boats loose from their moorings at a marina. And in Pasadena, a "freak" wind storm blew tents and equipment around outside the Rose Bowl, injuring four people, NBC Los Angeles reported. The winds were so fierce in Southern California that at least three tractor trailers were blown onto their sides, the station reported. And in the north of the state winds blew over power lines and left thousands in the dark, according to NBC Bay Area. In Colorado, an avalanche on Kelso Ridge in the Rocky Mountains killed one man and trapped two others, NBC station KUSA reported.

Cold weather didn't dampen the mood for some in chilly Las Vegas, where it was the coldest New Year's Eve in years. John Madole, owner of Las Vegas Heater Rentals, told NBC station KSNV that he expected to make well more Wednesday night than the $6,000 he usually earns on New Year’s Eve from last-minute rentals. "It's cold for New Year's Eve — about 10 degrees colder than it usually is," Madole said.

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— Phil Helsel