NEW YORK (Reuters) - Temperatures in all 50 U.S. states dipped to freezing or below on Tuesday as an unseasonably cold blast of weather moved across the country while heavy snow prompted a state of emergency in western New York and contributed to the deaths of four people.
Every U.S. state, including Hawaii, was bitten by temperatures at the freezing point of 32 degrees F (0 C) or below, the National Weather Service (NWS) said.
It was the coldest November morning across the country since 1976, according to Weather Bell Analytics, a meteorologist consulting firm. Typically, such cold is not seen until late December through February, the NWS said.
Parts of Erie County, western New York, had 60 inches (1.5 m) of snow, with more falling, said Steven Welch of the National Weather Service near Buffalo.
County officials said on Tuesday there had been four storm-related deaths. One person was killed in a traffic accident and three others died after suffering heart problems, two of whom were believed to have been shoveling heavy snow at the time.
Snow fell at a rate of up to five inches (13 cm) an hour and some areas approached the U.S. record for 24-hour snowfall totals of 76 inches (193 cm), the NWS said.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency for 10 counties. National Guard troops were deployed to help residents cope with the storm.
A total of three to four feet (0.9 to 1.2 meters) of snow was expected in many areas of western New York and as much as six feet (1.8 meters) elsewhere, the NWS said.
A 140-mile (225-km) stretch of the New York State Thruway along Lake Erie and Lake Ontario was closed. Bans on driving were implemented in some places.
A bus carrying the Niagara University women's basketball team has been stuck on the Thruway since 2 a.m., the school said.
In the south of the United States, states were bracing for a record chill from the Arctic-born cold that swept the Rocky Mountains last week.
In Florida, freezing temperatures were expected through Wednesday morning, the NWS said.
"I can't stand it," said Robin Roy, 53, shivering underneath a rainbow-colored poncho at an outdoor market in Gulfport, Florida. "I've never liked the cold."
Additional reporting by Letitia Stein in Gulfport, Fla., Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee, Ellen Wulfhorst in New York and Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Gareth Jones