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US ravaged by unexpected early wintry weather

Updated: 2014-11-19 09:14

US ravaged by unexpected early wintry weather

A commuter walks along Market Street in freezing temperatures Tuesday, Nov 18, 2014, in Philadelphia. [Photo/IC]

WASHINGTON - Most areas of the United Sates have been gripped by severe wintry weather characterized by heavy snowfall and drastic temperature drops since the weekend, with a dozen of states recording temperatures falling below freezing.

According to the National Weather Service (NWS), 50.2 percent of the country had snow on the ground Tuesday morning. Even the southmost Hawaii was hit by the cold snap, bringing the temperature at Mauna Kea on the Big Island down to zero degree Celsius.

This round of arctic cold air is extremely stronger than normal and it is highly unusual for this time of the year and is much more reminiscent of a pattern forecasters would expect to see in January or February, not November.

The NWS said that Tuesday was the coldest November morning since 1976. The average overnight low for the Lower 48 states was minus 6 degrees Celsius. It predicted that another surge of arctic cold air is likely by Wednesday to Thursday in the Midwest and Northeast. The Southeast could see record lows Wednesday morning as temperatures drop into minus 5 degrees.

Some areas in Pennsylvania and other mideastern states have seen heavy snowfall while thunder and lightning have also been reported there. Influenced by the snow, some regions have carried out emergency measures, including travel ban, school closure, as well as vehicle tire-chain installation and use of snow-fighting equipment.

The US National Guard has been called in, bringing along motorized equipment that can be used for snow clearing and trucks tow.

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