Unseasonable, record-breaking cold across country blamed for at least 8 deaths

The unseasonable cold was made worse in parts of the Midwest and the Northeast by snow and ice, bringing the complications related to winter.

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By Elisha Fieldstadt

At least eight deaths have been blamed on a record-breaking cold spell that still had its grip on much of the country Wednesday morning.

More than 150 record-low temperatures were recorded from Texas to Maine, proving particularly punishing to areas that were enjoying relatively balmy temperatures in the days before.

The National Weather Service said the cold front brought a level of intensity that hasn't been seen for over 100 years, since 1911 when temperatures from the Plains to the East Coast plummeted to the teens and 20s shortly after those regions saw record-high temperatures near 80 degrees.

Birmingham, Alabama, and Greenville, Mississippi, on Wednesday both broke record daily lows set during that freak cold spell by about 5 degrees.

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Louisiana, Mississippi, Virginia, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan have set records during the current cold front for the coldest temperature recorded in November, according to forecasters.

Meanwhile, the mercury in Pensacola, Florida, dropped to 30 degrees, which is the coldest temperature recorded there in 663 days.

The unseasonable cold, which first descended Monday and Tuesday, was made worse in parts of the Midwest and the Northeast by dangerous snow and ice conditions usually more common in the winter months.

In Clark County, Ohio, on Tuesday, a semi-truck hit a parked ambulance that was responding to another crash, killing the driver and injuring a co-driver, who was in the sleeper bunk of the truck, according to highway patrol officials. The killed driver was ejected from the semi and got trapped underneath it.

Also Tuesday, in Richfield, Ohio, a 16-vehicle crash caused by low visibility from heavy snow, left a 21-year-old woman dead, according to the highway patrol.

Another man was killed Tuesday in an incident related to the winter weather in Van Buren County in Michigan. He was trapped beneath a piece of heavy equipment he was using to clear snow from the property of his marijuana-growing business, according to the local sheriff's office and The Associated Press.

On Monday, an 80-year-old man in Cook County, Illinois, died from cold exposure as a result of hypertensive and arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease, according to the coroner there.

And road conditions were blamed for at least four deaths Monday. A 57-year-old man and two women, ages 64 and 81, died in a two-car crash outside Lansing, Michigan, and an 8-year-old girl was killed and three other people were injured in a head-on collision south of Kansas City, Kansas, authorities said.

The mid-Atlantic and New England will have to endure another morning of frigid temperatures Thursday, but seasonal weather should return across the country after that, forecasters said.