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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 June 2018

Record-shattering US cold reaches into Florida

Temperatures ranged from 11 to 17 degrees Celsius below normal across the US east of the Rocky Mountains

Tourist Ava Black of West Palm Beach in Florida walks through Times Square as a cold weather front hits the region in Manhattan, in New York, US, on December 29, 2017. Andrew Kelly / Reuters
Tourist Ava Black of West Palm Beach in Florida walks through Times Square as a cold weather front hits the region in Manhattan, in New York, US, on December 29, 2017. Andrew Kelly / Reuters

Record-shattering Arctic weather has reached as far south as Florida with freeze warnings in place from Texas to the Atlantic coast and the north-east United States facing another cold wave at the end of the week, forecasters said.

Temperatures ranged from 11°C to 17°C below normal across the US east of the Rocky Mountains, with only southern Florida untouched by the arctic blast. And the cold is set to continue, with "very high probability of record lows", according to Brian Hurley, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

Along Alabama's Gulf coast, the temperature in the city of Mobile was expected to hit a low of -9 °C overnight. Stiff breezes were expected to create dangerously cold wind chills across south-east Georgia and most of north-east Florida, the weather service said. Such cold conditions are very uncommon in America's Deep South states, which are traditionally associated with mild winter weather.

Michael Kimberl, co-founder of Sean's Outpost, an encampment for homeless people in Pensacola, Florida, said he was handing out propane fuel and extra blankets to residents and laying on extra accommodation, including a site for women and children.

"Our community is very unequipped for weather of this type," he said.

Read more: The state of the climate in 2018

The mass of frigid air pumped south by a dip in the jet stream sent temperatures plunging across the US heartland. Omaha, Nebraska, posted a low of -29°C, breaking a 130-year-old record, and Aberdeen, South Dakota, shattered a record set in 1919 with a temperature of minus -36°C.

The cold will be unrelenting across the Middle Atlantic and north-east United States, with up to two dozen low-temperature records expected in those regions over the next day or two, Mr Hurley said.

Although the cold should ease across most of the US after Tuesday, the north-east quarter of the country will face a repeat of the frigid temperatures from Thursday to Friday as another arctic blast hits the area.

The private AccuWeather forecaster said the cold snap could combine with a storm brewing off the Bahamas to bring snow and high winds to much of the eastern seaboard as it heads north on Wednesday and Thursday.

The only part of the US spared the deep freeze is the south-west, with above-normal temperatures and dry weather expected to linger there, the weather service said.