- By Chloe Kim and Nadine Yusif
- BBC News
A severe winter storm has caused widespread disruption across the United States, while parts of the country’s southeast are bracing for high temperatures.
As of Wednesday, about 75 million people in 28 states were placed under winter weather warnings.
Blizzards have forced many schools and businesses to close in the Dakotas, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Meanwhile, the highest temperature in Washington DC is expected to break a nearly 150-year record.
The stark difference in temperature is that some parts of the United States can be 100F (38C) warmer than others at the same time.
Record low temperature in the US
Strong winds of 50mph (80km/h) and wind chills as low as -50F are forecast in some areas.
In the northern states, up to 2 feet (60 cm) of snow is predicted in some areas, the heaviest snowfall areas will experience in 30 years.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walls said the National Guard will be on hand to help stranded motorists in blizzard conditions. Officials said the state could break its record for snowfall.
“This is a reminder to stay home and limit travel if possible,” the Utah Department of Transportation warned morning commuters.
Forecasters said the storm system could create an ice sheet within 1,300 miles of Nebraska to New Hampshire.
Cold weather is forecast for Los Angeles, California, where a rare blizzard warning is in effect, despite generally sunny and warm weather. Heavy snow and wind gusts of up to 75 mph are forecast for the mountains and foothills of Ventura and Los Angeles County.
All of California’s 39 million residents could see snow falling around them or settling on nearby mountain tops, said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the University of California-Los Angeles.
As of Wednesday night, parts of Montana had recorded a chilly temperature of -9F.
The United States also recorded high temperatures
Meanwhile, much of the southern United States has unusually high temperatures for this time of year. On Wednesday, McAllen, Texas recorded a high of 95F in the mercury.
Washington DC could reach 80F on Thursday, breaking the record set in 1874.
Temperatures could reach 90F in Orlando, Florida and 84F in New Orleans, Louisiana.
“Throughout the winter, we’ve seen this consistent pattern of the western US seeing below-average temperatures and the eastern US seeing above-average temperatures,” Columbia University researcher Andrew Kruskiewicz told BBC News.
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Canada is also feeling the brunt of the winter storm
Much of the country is under a weather warning, including Toronto, which expects 4-10in (10-15cm) of snow, sleet and possible freezing rain.
Air services have also been suspended due to the winter storm. Air Canada canceled a quarter of its scheduled flights Wednesday afternoon.
February is the hottest temperature recorded in the country. Now, parts of Toronto may see significant ice build-up as a result of this latest cold snap.
Parts of Alberta and the prairies face severe cold warnings, with temperatures dropping into the -40F (-40C) range with wind chills in some areas.
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