Temperatures plunge to new lows in midwest and northern plains

A Green Bay Packers fan takes pictures before one of the coldest ever games at Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears. Photograph: Tannen Maury/EPA

Temperatures plunged to -20F (-29C) and lower across much of the northern plains overnight, as a fresh surge of bitter arctic air reached into the midwest.

In Chicago, the Bears were playing one of the coldest home games in franchise history. The game-time temperature for their NFL match-up against Green Bay on Sunday was 11F (-12C) with a -4F wind chill.

Police in the city said a commercial plane slid off a runway early Sunday at O’Hare international airport. There were no injuries reported from the incident, which happened just after 1am.

Weather-related delays at Indianapolis international airport caused about 100 passengers to spend the night in the terminal, but most travellers were on their way by Sunday morning.

Bismarck, North Dakota, posted a new record low for the date of 17 December with -31F (-35C) on Saturday before midnight, said the National Weather Service (NWS) meteorologist Zachary Hargrove. Linton, North Dakota, was even colder at -33F (-36C) early on Sunday.

Colorado residents were digging out after up to 16in of snow fell across the state on Saturday, stranding motorists and leaving some areas of the state with subzero temperatures on Sunday.

The NWS said the thermometer dipped to -27F (-33C) in Limon. Breckenridge reported the most snow, with 16in that gave skiers and snowboarders the heavy snow they have been hoping for all season.

Snow and freezing rain led to numerous highway accidents, some serious. Perhaps the biggest accident was in Baltimore, when a tanker carrying gasoline skidded off a highway and exploded, killing two people and causing a nearly 70-vehicle pileup on Interstate 95, authorities said.

Hospital officials said nearly two dozen people were treated for injuries including broken bones and head trauma suffered in the Saturday crash. Seven remained hospitalized on Sunday with two in critical condition, two in serious condition and three in fair condition.

In south-western Michigan, icy conditions appear to have played a role in a crash that killed a 73-year-old motorist. There were dozens of crashes in Indiana – two of them fatal – due to freezing rain and ice. The roads were so slick that authorities had to move motorists stranded on an overpass with a ladder.

In Ohio, a Columbus woman died when her car skidded off a slick road, authorities said. In North Carolina, police and emergency workers reported more than 100 crashes in Raleigh and Charlotte as the drizzle combined with temperatures below freezing to create dangerous icy patches.

In Missouri, Jared Leighton, a meteorologist with the NWS in Pleasant Hill, said Sunday the winter storm Saturday left 2in to 4in of snow and was followed by sub-zero temperatures early Sunday.

Leighton said a “gentle warm-up” was expected. “It’s still going to be rather cold, but when you start with -9F (-13C) anything is going to feel warm,” he said.

“We’ll struggle to get out of the single digits,” he said on Sunday. “We might get to 10F (-12C) today.”

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By Rachel Ncube 12/18/2016 14:19:00