CHICAGO — The good news for many in the Northeast and Midwest was that it was a white Christmas. The bad news was that a blizzard swept into parts of New England and bitter cold enveloped much of the Midwest.
Erie, Pa., recieved a record 34 inches of snow.
And another 19 inches fell before dawn Tuesday, bringing the total to 53 inches — the greatest two-day total in commonwealth history. The previous record was the 44 inches that fell in Morgantown in March 1958.
And it’s not over for Erie – the snow is expected to continue falling through Wednesday. The city of Erie issued a snow emergency, citing “dangerous and impassable” roads, and asked residents to stay off city streets until the snow stops and roads can reopen.
State police and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation are urging people to avoid travel, citing poor visibility and deteriorating conditions.
Even the usually rainy Pacific Northwest got snow. The National Weather Service says it’s only the sixth time since 1884 that downtown Portland had measurable snow — only an inch or two — on a Dec. 25.
A blizzard warning was issued Monday for portions of Maine and New Hampshire, with forecasters saying snow of up to 10 inches and wind gusts up to 50 mph could make travel “dangerous to impossible.”
Pittsburgh got its first white Christmas since 2002 with most of the region getting the minimum requirement of an inch of snow.
Now the countdown to the new year is officially on. And as the days remaining in 2017 slide into the single digits, the temperatures will follow.
“The theme for the week is cold,” said Bob Coblentz, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Pittsburgh. “It’s going to feel like winter. It’s going to be brutal.”
High temperatures in Western Pennsylvania between Tuesday and New Year’s Day will linger in the upper-teens and low-20s, according to Mr. Coblentz. The warm day will bed Friday, with a high of 27 degrees.
Lows were expected to drop into the single-digits several times, including Wednesday night when a low of 8 degrees was predicted.
“We’re in the icebox,” Mr. Coblentz said. “We’re buried in winter right now.”
It likely will be a cold introduction to 2018 as temperatures were expected to drop to 9 degrees Sunday evening. Highs on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day might reach 20 degrees, according to the weather service.
The weather, however cold, should be fairly dry as snow was only expected Thursday evening through Friday.
Other parts of the country experienced an even harsher side of winter.
States from Montana and the Dakotas to Wisconsin expected wind chill temperatures in places at 40 below zero, the National Weather Service said. The upper half of Iowa and northern Illinois also braced for subzero temperatures.
Minnesota was experiencing its most frigid Christmas Day since 1996, with wind chills as cold as 35 degrees below zero, KSTP-TV reported. The National Weather Service warned that those whose skin was exposed in such conditions could get frostbite in as little as 15 minutes.
Snow amounts in the Midwest were not large for this time of year. A storm system that swept from Nebraska through Iowa dropped around 2 inches of snow on Chicago, the weather service said.
That was just enough to provide a picturesque backdrop for those gathering for Christmas dinners in the Chicago area. But it wasn’t enough to cause havoc either on roadway or airport runaways.
Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport was reporting just six cancellations and average delays of only 15 minutes around noon Monday. There were no cancellations at the city’s other major airport, Midway, and delays were less than 15 minutes on average.
The nation’s third largest city had comparatively little snow for the season until the weekend — just over 2 inches in all, the National Weather Service said.
The city of Milwaukee had 103 salt trucks treating slick spots Monday, according to WITI-TV. The trucks were using treated salt that’s deployed when temperatures drop below 15 degrees.
In addition to slowing travel in New England, the storm was responsible for some power outages. Eversource reported more than 20,000 customers in eastern Massachusetts without electricity, the bulk on Cape Cod which was feeling the brunt of strong winds.
Most of Indiana had been under winter weather advisory with officials urging motorists to stay put unless they absolutely had to travel. Northern Indiana had been expecting up to 5 inches with slightly less in the southern part of the state.
New England was expected to get up to 8 inches of snow. Strong winds were predicted for Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island with gusts up to 65 mph.
Mountain areas in parts of Colorado, Montana and Wyoming received more than 1 foot of snow, which started Saturday. It was good news for holiday skiers and resorts which have struggled with a slow start this season.
But it meant a heightened warning of avalanches in higher elevations outside of ski areas.