Winter is getting off to an early start this year as the bitter cold continues after this past weekend’s storm.
Strong northerly winds are ushering in an arctic blast that is setting records across the eastern half of the U.S.
Record lows were set Tuesday morning from Virginia to Florida. High temperatures are 30 degrees below average for this time of year. And to make matters worse, snow and ice are in the forecast, making even day-to-day commutes difficult and dangerous.
Florida farmers continue to take protective measures against freezing temperatures this week. And although it hasn’t been a catastrophic event, long stretches with lows below freezing could have a detrimental impact on strawberries and citrus.
Numerous record lows were set in Florida on Tuesday morning, including 32 degrees in West Palm Beach and 20 degrees in Jacksonville. These temps might not seem extreme to the cold-weather veterans of the Midwest and Northeast, but in West Palm Beach, an average low Monday night would have been around 60.
Farther north, in the Midwest, freezing temperatures are the least of concerns. The lake effect snow machines have been raging since Sunday night and are expected to continue through at least Wednesday.
CNN’s Rob Marciano has been braving the elements in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, which received 12 inches overnight in a heavy lake effect snow band. Farther east, into New York, some locations have seen up to 20 inches in the Lake Erie and Lake Ontario snow belts. Winter storm warnings and lake effect snow warnings continue for these regions into Wednesday.
If that’s not enough of a winter blast for you, there’s a wintry mix – including freezing rain – on the way for parts of the Ohio and Mississippi Valleys. Winter storm watches and winter weather advisories have been posted for frozen and freezing precipitation that is expected to start Wednesday afternoon.
The Weather Service says the freezing precipitation will start as snow and then gradually change into sleet and freezing rain by Wednesday morning. Ice is expected to accumulate up to a quarter of an inch across Kentucky and Tennessee, and possibly into northern Mississippi and Alabama. These accumulations will make travel extremely dangerous, and authorities have suggested that residents stay off the roads during the storm.