November 11, 2019 / 11:05 PM / a month ago

Record Arctic cold may hit U.S. Gulf Coast, damage crops

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - An Arctic blast pummeling the northern United States on Monday is forecast to break more than 400 cold-temperature records in the next 48 hours and bring a potentially crop-damaging freeze to Texas and other Gulf states.

Every state east of the Mississippi River, with the exception of Florida, is expected to see at least one record-cold temperature through Wednesday, said Alex Lamers, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

“We’re seeing the potential for a freeze all the way down to the central Gulf Coast region, from Texas eastward,” he said by telephone from the National Weather Service Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland. “That is several weeks earlier than the average first freeze for the region, and that could have an impact on crops.”

Lamers said snow and ice will hit the northeast hard Monday night into Tuesday.

“We’re expecting some heavy snow from around Lake Erie into western New York and northern New England, where they could see between 6 and 12 inches,” he said. “This is their first significant winter storm of the season.”

The snow has already badly slowed air travel in some areas, particularly Chicago where over 500 flights were canceled. Nationwide, nearly 1,000 flights had been canceled due to snow and ice.

In Austin, the high on Tuesday is forecast by the National Weather Service to hit 46 degrees, which would break the record set last year of 51 degrees for the lowest high temperature for the day, according to the agency. Lows will be below freezing.

The Austin Resource Center for the Homeless, which serves as the main entry point for most of the city’s homeless to seek social services, activated its cold-weather shelter plan on Monday, opening some churches and recreation centers to the homeless.

Reporting by Brad Brooks in Austin, Texas; Editing by Leslie Adler

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