The nation is in the grips of a blast of cold Arctic air with temperatures falling to some of the lowest marks in years and wind chills plummeting to dangerously low levels. NBC's Jay Gray reports.
Capping off a brutal week of frigid conditions and subzero wind chills, residents across much of the country on Friday were still experiencing some of the coldest temperatures in years — with southern states getting a rare icy blast.
Peak temperatures from the Northeast to the Midwest were slated to range from single digits to the 30s, and forecasters said freezing air temperatures and the chance of precipitation could mean snow in both regions.
"This is actually quite an impressive mass of cold air," Richard Castro, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service told NBCChicago.com.
By mid-afternoon on Friday, Pennsylvania was feeling the first of a "widespread storm, impacting the entire state," said state's transportation department spokesman Steve Chizmar.
Snow was falling over most of the state, and forecasters predicted a total of 1 to 4 inches through Saturday morning, while transportation department crews stayed busy plowing and salting the roads.
Hundreds of schools in the state dismissed classes early Friday.
Only a light dusting, if any accumulation, was expected in New York City, where real-feel temperatures were below zero Friday morning, NBCNewYork.com reported.
Timothy A. Clary / AFP - Getty Images
A man photographs the fountain at Bryant Park in New York on Friday as the arctic air has turned the fountain into an ice sculpture.
In the Midwest, one of the first snowfalls of the season in Chicago created a few slick spots on the roads Friday morning, causing at least a dozen accidents, including an eight-vehicle crash, NBCChicago.com reported. Only minor injuries had been reported.
Though little snow accumulated it was still record breaking. The 1.1 inches recorded Friday morning broke the city’s 335-day stretch of no more than an inch of snow accumulation in one day.
The National Weather Service had winter weather advisories in effect for the eastern seaboard from North Carolina to southern New Jersey, and issued blizzard warnings for northern Georgia.
Parts of Kentucky were reporting as much as half inch of ice accumulation, Weather.com reported. Slick roads in the southeast of the state were making driving hazardous, causing more than 100 accidents in Pulaski County alone, it said.
Tennessee was also slick with ice in the east, and reported some power outages, while freezing rain caused a number of school systems in central and southern Kentucky to cancel classes, according to WLEX-TV.
Because cold temperatures can be dangerous, officials advised residents to heed cold-weather tips, including wearing gloves, wearing a mouth covering to protect the lungs from bitter cold air, layering loose-fitting, warm clothing and wearing a hat to retain body heat.
Animal advocates also urged pet owners to only take elderly dogs, puppies and short-haired dogs outside when it is absolutely necessary. If a dog whines frequently or keeps lifting its paws up while on a walk, it may need boots. Cat owners should keep their animals inside at all times in such bitter cold, NBCChicago.com reported.
The forecast for next week called for some relief from the arctic temperatures of late, beginning with sunny skies and temperatures hitting the mid-40s to 50s by the middle of the week.
Kari Huus, NBC Staff Writer, contributed to this report.
Leaving snow and ice in its wake, Winter Storm Khan is churning toward the Mid-Atlantic. NBC's Brian Williams reports.