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Arctic blast to send Eastern US into deep freeze

[NEW YORK] An Arctic blast descended Monday on a swath of the country stretching from the Rocky Mountains to New England, bringing snow and ice that left at least four dead, including an 8-year-old girl in Kansas.

The air mass, which led to more than 1,000 flight cancellations in Chicago alone, is expected to break more than 150 daily-temperature records across the eastern half of the country over the next two days.

It is expected to reach minus 1 Fahrenheit in Sioux City, Iowa, and 25 degrees in Greenwood, Mississippi, on Tuesday. On Wednesday, temperatures in Austin, Texas; Houston; and New Orleans are expected to dip to the 20s.

Temperatures plunged to record-breaking lows or tied with existing records in several areas in the Great Plains on Monday, according to Brian Hurley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. For instance, he said, northern Montana reached minus 19, beating the previous daily temperature record by 3 degrees.

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The cold front is expected to stretch from the Southern Plains to the Ohio River Valley on Tuesday, and by Wednesday, it will shift to the Gulf and East coasts, said Alex Lamers, another meteorologist with the Weather Service.

Snowfall could measure up to 1 foot in the Northeast, with the greatest amounts in the Adirondacks, the Green Mountains of Vermont and northern Maine, according to the Weather Service. Many schools, including in the Detroit and St Louis areas, closed early Monday and are canceled for Tuesday, according to local television stations.

In Kansas, an 8-year-old girl was killed Monday after a truck lost control on the icy highway, crossed the centerline and hit her vehicle head on, causing another car to rear-end it, according to the Kansas Highway Patrol's online crash log.

Three people in Michigan were killed in a two-vehicle crash caused by poor road conditions, the Eaton County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.

A plane slid off an icy runway after landing at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago on Monday morning. None of the 38 passengers or three crew members were injured, according to an American Airlines spokeswoman.

The air mass formed over the Arctic Ocean late last week, dipped south through Canada over the weekend and spread southeast across the United States, Mr Lamers said.

The arctic front arrived around Veterans Day, prompting some event organizers to make new plans.

The low temperatures Monday night were particularly concerning in Wyoming, where officials were still searching for a 16-year-old autistic boy who went missing the day before, wearing only his pajamas and a hooded sweatshirt. Law enforcement have been using canine teams, helicopters and certified human trackers, according to the Natrona County Sheriff's Office.

Mr Lamers said temperatures should start to rise after Wednesday.

"It's not uncommon to get the first significant surge of arctic air in November, but it is unusual how far south it's getting — with potential freezes in the Gulf of Mexico," he said.

NYTIMES