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Arctic blast ushers in brutal freeze from Montana to Boston, wintry mix for Deep South

Dangerous wind chill as low as minus 50 likely in the Plains, Midwest for New Year's Day.


2017's year-end arctic blast has turned deadly. Both a man and a dog have frozen to death in Ohio. USA TODAY

Frank Necci clears snow from St. Andrews Catholic Church, Dec. 29, 2017, in Erie, Pa. The cold weather pattern was expected to continue through the holiday weekend.(Photo: Tony Dejak, AP)

A brutal shot of arctic air is set to lock much of the U.S. from Montana to the East Coast in a bone-chilling deep freeze for New Year's Day, with temperatures expected to plunge to around zero in northern Oklahoma.

The National Weather service forecast morning lows on Sunday of roughly -20 to -30 from Montana into the Dakotas and Minnesota which are about 20 to 30 degrees below average for this time of year.

A wintry mix with freezing rain is likely to develop to the north from Texas and Oklahoma into the lower Mississippi Valley and Alabama into the day on Sunday, raising prospects for sleet in portions of the Deep South. Forecasters warned of difficult travel conditions on New Year's Eve.

The bitter cold weather will stay in place for many spots east of the Rockies through New Year's Day with record low minimum and maximum temperatures possible from Canada to the Gulf Coast through Monday, the National Weather Service said. 

In New York City, the fire department will add extra personnel on the streets to provide medical support for the annual Times Square celebration, which could be the coldest on record.

More: It’s so cold out, a dog froze, sharks died and road salt is useless

Authorities warned revelers who plan to watch the annual New Year's Eve ball drop to dress in layers, cover exposed skin, lay off the alcohol and bring some hand warmers. 

The coldest New Year’s Eve in Times Square came in 1917, when it was 1 degree at midnight. This year, the forecast is for 11 degrees with a wind chill around zero, which would tie for second with 1962.

In Maine, the harsh weather prompted organizer of the Lobster Dip at Old Orchard Beach to reschedule the event for the first time in 30 years.

Gusty wind picks up snow accumulated on the ground as Jesse Sherwood, of Jersey City, N.J., jogs at Liberty State Park on Jan. 6, 2018, in Jersey City. About 100 million people faced a new challenge after the whopping East Coast snowstorm: a gusty deep freeze, topped Saturday by a wind chill close to minus 100 on New Hampshire's Mount Washington that vied for world's coldest place.  Julio Cortez, AP

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A person walks in the snow on King Street in Charleston, S.C., on Jan. 3, 2018. A brutal winter storm smacked the coastal Southeast with a rare blast of snow and ice Wednesday, hitting parts of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina with their heaviest snowfall in nearly three decades.  Matthew Fortner, The Post And Courier via AP

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People walk on the ice covered beach along Lake Michigan on Jan. 7, 2018, in Milwaukee. Cold temperatures for days have gripped a wide swaths of the U.S. from Texas to New England.  Kiichiro Sato, AP

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Ice floats in the Hudson River in Lower Manhattan with Jersery City, N.J., visible across the river on Jan. 7, 2018, as bitterly cold temperatures continued through the weekend in New York. The blast of arctic air that engulfed portions of the East Coast broke more cold temperature records in several cities, but weather experts say a warm-up is coming Monday.   Kathy Willens, AP

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An overnight 5 alarm fire in the Dorchester neighborhood was fought in icy cold temperatures and high winds, Boston, Mass. on Jan. 7, 2018. The building is encased in ice after firefighters spent the night battling the blaze that left 25 residents displaced.  John Cetrino, EPA-EFE

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Katherine Rozenbert and her granddaughter Rebecca, both of Paris, walk in Battery Park City on Jan. 7, 2018, in New York, after their return flight from John F. Kennedy International Airport, scheduled for Friday, was canceled due to bad weather. The bitter cold that followed a massive East Coast snowstorm should begin to lessen as temperatures inch up and climb past freezing next week.  Kathy Willens, AP

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People walk past a massive snow pile near Astor place during sub zero temperatures in New York, New York on Jan. 7, 2018. A massive cold front hit the Eastern Seaboard with the wind chill, the temperature could reach -20 degrees celsius.  Jason Szenes, EPA-EFE

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An automobile covered in snow with windshield wipers exposed in East Boston neighborhood in Boston, Mass. on Jan. 6, 2018. On the heels of a major winter storm on the East coast of the US, a weather system with deep cold moved into the Northeast for several days before the region will see moderate temperatures for the first time in weeks.   John Cetrino, EPA-EFE

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A Boston Fire Department Firefighter's helmet is crusted in ice as he battles a 5-alarm fire in the Dorchester neighborhood in icy cold temperatures and high winds, Boston, Mass. on Jan. 7, 2018. About 100 firefighters battled a blaze that left 25 residents displaced.  John Cetrino, EPA-EFE

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A man shovels snow from a footpath in New York.  Jewel Samad, AFP/Getty Images

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A homeless man carries his belongings near the White House in Washington.  Andrew Caballero-Reynolds, AFP/Getty Images

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Maine Gov. Paul LePage has signed an emergency proclamation to avoid delays in the delivery of heating oil to residents throughout the holiday weekend. The proclamation allows for a waiver from the federal Department of Transportation to permit oil delivery workers to stay on the road longer than normally allowed to make sure homes and businesses get supplies. 

In Philadelphia, officials are taking a wait-and-see approach on whether they’ll hold the annual Mummers Day Parade. 

With temperatures only expected to reach 9 degrees in Springfield, Illinois, on Sunday, the organizers of its annual New Year’s Eve fireworks display have decided to cancel this year’s show. Officials say they plan to reschedule it for a warmer date.

The village of Orchard Park near Buffalo has canceled its New Year’s Eve event because subzero temperatures have been forecast. “With frigid weather, the chance of a water line break is higher, and I’d rather have my public works crew fixing it than hoisting a ball up to drop,” said Mayor Jo Ann Litwin Clinton.

 A coating of light snow is also expected from the Ohio Valley across the Appalachians, and into the northern Mid-Atlantic before reaching southern New England Saturday.  

While most areas could see around two inches of snow, some spots already hard-hit around the Great Lakes can expect another round of heavy snow, from six to 12 inches possible.

Snow is not likely to accumulate in the mid-Atlantic regions, but travelers along the heavily traveled I-95 should expect slow, slippery driving conditions.

Wind chill watches and warning have been issued for northern and central Plains and the Midwest, with wind chills likely to drop to minus-50. The bitter cold is expected in hit major cities as Bismarck, N.D., Omaha, Nebr., Kansas City, Mo., and Chicago. 

In southeast Nebraska, the NWS warns of dangerously cold wind chills that could cause frostbite in as little as 10 minutes to exposed skin.

Farther west, heavy mountain snow and some lingering freezing rain will lead to dangerous travel conditions into the weekend across the Pacific Northwest and northern Rockies.

In Montana, an avalanche Friday night closed a stretch of Highway 200 just east of the intersection with Montana Highway 141.

Contributing: Associated Press

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