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Temperatures Plunge Again; Cold Blamed for Wis. Derailment

<p>A new blast of cold air hit the Northeast and the Midwest on Sunday, cause the derailmentment of a coal train in Wisconsin.</p>
Image: Derailed rail cars in Caledonia, Wis., on Sunday morning.
State officials say the extreme cold caused 19 rail cars carrying coal to derail Sunday in Caledonia, Wis.Caledonia Fire Department

A new blast of cold air that hit the Northeast and the Midwest on Sunday won't be as biting as the cold that kicked off January, but it was bad enough to cause the derailment of a coal train in Wisconsin.

As millions of Americans were bracing for another chill after a relatively warm — albeit short — hiatus, Wisconsin officials were investigating cracks in the track near Caledonia, in the southwest part of the state, where 19 cars of a 135-car Union Pacific train heading to Wyoming ran off the rails.

Nobody was injured in the accident, which happened about 7:30 a.m. (8:30 a.m. ET), state Railroad Commissioner Jeff Plale told NBC station WTMJ of Milwaukee. But 5-Mile Road will be closed indefinitely as Union Pacific and state environmental crews clean up the scene, police said.

"In this brutally old weather, sometimes tracks get brittle, and this is what happened here," Plale said.

A cold air mass was parked from the Northern Plains to the Upper Mississippi Valley, the Great Lakes, the Ohio Valley and the Northeast — bringing temperatures 10 to 25 degrees below average at times Tuesday through Thursday, The Weather Channel reported.

While snow fell in New England and parts of the Midwest on Saturday, accumulation won't be a debilitating problem to begin the workweek, but temperatures are due to plummet in the Upper Midwest, the Great Lakes and the interior Northeast overnight Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.

"Maybe not as cold as that Arctic outbreak we had at the beginning of January, but still, this is significant," said Jen Carfagno, a forecaster for The Weather Channel. "We're looking at our temperatures as cold as they get when it comes to averages for the year."

"We'll certainly feel it," Carfagno said.

While forecasters can't be certain, they warn that this latest patch of extreme cold may last through the end of January, as frigid air is pushed once again from Canada.

The Southern states will also see below-average temperatures for January, but will still sit comfortably in the 40- to 60-degree range, forecasters said.