Frigid March weather in U.S. shatters records, thrills skiers

Source: Xinhua| 2019-03-06 06:45:44|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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by Peter Mertz

DENVER, the United States, March 5 (Xinhua) -- An arctic air mass invading from Canada has blasted the United States, affecting some 220 million people on Tuesday morning, according to weather reports.

Although two teens were killed in a single-car accident late Sunday in the Philadelphia area, snow resulting from the storm has boosted business for Colorado's ski resorts.

"Long lines out there and spectacular conditions," said Aspen ski instructor Dave McMannis on Tuesday.

This late-season March blast has seen fewer tragedies, but bitter, record-setting lows felt all the way from Washington state to Texas.

"Highs on Tuesday and Wednesday are expected to be roughly 15 to 30 degrees below early March averages for most locations east of the Rocky Mountains," said National Weather Service (NWS) meteorologist Ryan Maue.

An all-time record low for March was set in Montana as Elk Park hit 46 degrees Celsius below zero Monday morning, the National Weather Service in Great Falls said.

"It's official: The twin Cities hit -13 on Sunday morning, tying the record low set in 1873," reported CBS weatherman Mike Augustyniak of Minnesota's biggest metropolis area.

"It's the first of several records to come over the next few days," he Tweeted.

Colorado's capital city Denver saw records set Monday and Tuesday. A record that stood since 1872 was broken when Denver International Airport hit 16 degrees Celsius below zero on Monday.

Temperatures across the state in many cases were as much as 50 degrees Celsius below the early March average, with Walden at -25 Monday and Briggsdale at -20, the NWS reported.

Wind chills were also unimaginably cold across the northern Plains, dipping to almost 60 degrees Celsius below zero in some spots, and temperatures in Texas on Monday broke records for early March, Maue said in a statement.

The cold, though less intense, will spill toward the East Coast and Southeast on Tuesday, more March cold records are predicted to occur, the NWS reported.

"When this freakish cold spell is done, several hundred new record-low temperatures will have fallen," Capital Weather Gang meteorologist Ian Livingston Tweeted.

The same region is expected to see temperatures slowly thaw by the end of this week, with temperatures surging back into the 40s and 50s later this week.


West of Denver in America's most famous mountains, the Colorado Rockies was hammered by four feet of snow to the delight of America's world-renowned ski resorts.

"There's nothing like skiing in fresh powder," McMannis said Tuesday. "The people who really love this sport are taking advantage of these fantastic conditions."

McMannis told Xinhua that Snowmass Ski Resort west of Aspen has been swamped since snow began falling Sunday, with the mountain's 94 trails and 21 chairlifts filled with eager skiers and snowboarders.

But the sudden dumping has also created dangerous avalanche conditions.

Drivers on Colorado's highway I70 that connects Kansas to Utah narrowly missed getting swept away by a huge avalanche Monday that covered parts of the interstate 90 miles (152.1 kilometers) west of Denver.

"The walls of 10-mile canyon came tumbling down," said weatherman Jacob Easton of Denver's KWGN-TV, noting it was Denver's biggest snowfall of the season.

Several local weather stations said there was "extreme danger" of avalanches throughout the region, as heavy, wet snow was falling on top of thin layers of frozen ice and snow.

A number of avalanches were reported throughout the Rockies during the recent snowfall, with no fatalities, although two slides claimed three lives in February, according to local reports.

Colorado ski areas received enormous snow totals on Sunday and Monday - up to 45 inches (114.3 centimeters) of snow hit a number of resorts, according to Colorado Ski Country USA (CSCUSA).

The Front Range ski areas, closer to Denver, saw impressive snowfall from the storm, with Copper Mountain reporting 42 inches (106.7 centimeters) and Loveland 33 inches (83.8 centimeters) of fresh powder.

Two hours to the west, in the heart of the Rockies, Aspen Snowmass reported 38 inches (96.5 centimeters) at its Highland Resort.

In southern Colorado, 45 inches (114.3 centimeters) of snow fell on Silverton Mountain with the Wolf Creek Ski Area receiving 30 inches (76.2 centimeters).

"We haven't seen anything like this in decades," McMannis said. "It's very exciting, and the conditions are super."

For skiers and snowboarders newer to the sport, lots of fresh snow also means lots of soft groomed corduroy for those not the seeking out the deep snow, according to Colorado Ski.

The weather forecast calls for more snowfall in Colorado, with a mid-week storm and a storm heading into next weekend.