Already, about 2,000 records for low temperatures have been shattered this past week, CNN meteorologist Dave Hennen said.
On Tuesday alone, at least 20 cities suffered their coldest weather in history. Many more new records are expected this week.
“The next major winter storm develops over the southern Plains Tuesday, spreads across the Mid-South and lower MS Valley through Wednesday before shifting northeast on a similar track to the current storm,” the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center tweeted.
“There will be significant travel disruption in both the snow and ice areas with concern for further/extended power outages for areas already (experiencing) power outages.”
It’s devastating news for millions of Americans still shivering without power after this week’s deadly storm paralyzed states not accustomed to frigid weather.
At least 15 people have died in weather-related vehicle crashes since the cold temperatures set in. In Oklahoma alone, 123 people were hospitalized Monday with weather-related injuries.
Record-breaking snow coverage
That’s the largest area covered by snow since such records started in 2003. The measurements are based on ground reports as well as airborne and satellite measurements.
As of 6 a.m. Tuesday, snow cover was found in 45 of the 48 states in the continental US.
Florida, Georgia and South Carolina were the only snow-free states.
The Northeast is under the gun
The storm that left a trail of destruction in the South this week will move through the Northeast late Tuesday, leaving heavy snow and ice along the way, CNN Meteorologist Tyler Mauldin said.
Millions will endure wind chills below zero through late this week.
While temperatures are expected to rise as the system moves, record cold mornings and afternoons will linger through Saturday, Mauldin said.
Heavy snow could reach areas downwind of Lake Erie and Ontario as the system leaves New England on Tuesday evening.
“I’m almost certain that we are slowly watching one of the first billion-dollar weather disaster of 2021 unfold,” Mauldin said.
What’s next for the states already hammered
A weather system that’s been dumping cold precipitation on the West Coast is heading to the South, Maudlin said.
Seattle reported more than 11 inches of snow over the weekend, the most since January 1972.
And parts of Wyoming got hit with more than 4 feet of snow in just a few days.
Wind chills ranging from 42 degrees below zero near Yuma, Colorado, to 25 below near Norton, Kansas, were reported this week.
More than 6 inches of snow has fallen from East Texas to Ohio, with some areas picking up more than a foot.
Oklahoma City has gone a record five days without climbing over 20 degrees. That record will likely stretch until Thursday, or nine days.
No power, no running water
Plunging temperatures have frozen or overworked power sources, leaving nearly 5 million people in the dark as of early Tuesday morning.
In Abilene, Texas, about 123,000 residents are also without water due to power outages. All three water treatment plants in the city had to be shut off when both of their power sources went out, the City of Abilene said in a statement.
“It is not known exactly when power and subsequent water service will be returned to Abilene water customers,” the city said.
Though rolling power outages are not planned for Louisiana, Gov. John Bel Edwards said they could happen if the power generation is unable to keep up with the demand.
This will be the coldest weather Louisiana has experienced in several decades, Edwards said. He said about 125,000 households have lost power, some for over 12 hours.
As if the power and water losses weren’t enough, the brutal weather has also delayed Covid-19 vaccinations.
For the second day in a row, vaccinations were postponed Tuesday at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.
In Harris County, Texas, officials were racing to allocate and salvage 8,400 coronavirus vaccines that were in jeopardy of spoiling after the generator and back-up generator failed Monday morning.
“Missouri is experiencing severe winter weather that makes driving dangerous and threatens the health and safety of anyone exposed to the cold. These conditions will also likely delay some vaccine shipments,” Parson said.
‘Roads are getting covered faster than we can get them cleared’
While waiting for the power to come back on, officials have urged residents to stay off the roads.
The Mississippi Highway Patrol said it’s investigated more than 400 weather-related traffic incidents since Sunday.
All but eight counties in the state have reported ice on roads and bridges, the agency tweeted.
“Heavy snowfall rates combined with blowing snow means that roads are getting covered faster than we can get them cleared,” according to the agency.
45 degrees inside a home
Texas, a state not used to brutal winter weather, has been one of the hardest hit. On Tuesday morning, temperatures were well below freezing across the entire state.
More than 4.1 million customers are without power, according to Poweroutages.US.
Because “customers” can represent a business or a household, millions more people are impacted.
The cold even interrupted cellular service in Fort Bend County on Monday night, Fort Bend County Judge KP Georges said.
For Jamie Taylor, a mother of five in Dallas, the more than 18-hour power outage meant caring for her family in 45-degree temperatures inside her apartment.
“We’re surviving on cereal and chips. Only slightly losing it.”
CNN’s Judson Jones, Kay Jones, Joe Sutton, Rebekah Riess, Dave Alsup and Steve Almasy contributed to this report.