Another blast of Arctic air invaded the nation's midsection today, creating dangerous and deadly wind chills "not fit for man or beast."
A blizzard warning covered western South Dakota, where winds to 40 m.p.h. cut visibility to near zero and the wind-chill factor was expected to drop to as low as 70 below zero.
The latest prelude to winter, part of a series of wintry storms in the last week blamed for 18 deaths, dropped temperatures to a record 17 below zero in Havre, Mont., 10 below at Billings, Mont., and 9 below in Casper, Wyo.
The blast of Canadian air, described as "more typical of December or January or the middle of winter," swept down from the Yukon into the northern Plains early today and headed toward the central and southern Plains and Great Lakes, National Weather Service forecaster Scott Tansey said.
Chill Called Deadly
The cold combined with wind as high as 20 to 40 m.p.h. to send the wind-chill factor to 30 to 50 degrees below zero today across Montana, Wyoming, the Dakotas and northern Nebraska into Iowa and Minnesota.
Minnesota weather service statements described the wind chills as "deadly" and "dangerous" and said today would be "a day not fit for man or beast."
"It's starting out exactly like last year," said Dean Fitzgerald of Philip, S.D. "I guess it's going to be another long winter."
Shelters for the homeless throughout many of the areas afflicted by the blast of wintry weather have been filled to capacity since the weekend and officials prepared for even more as the temperatures were to get colder.
All Beds Full
"We've got 382 beds, and every one of them was full last night. We're expecting the demand to be even greater tonight, because we're going to have a hard freeze," said Wanda Bailey, director of the Dallas Life Foundation shelter in Texas.
The NWS said the cold air would spread over most of the nation east of the Rockies by late today and Thursday and that temperatures "will likely be the coldest of the fall season."
The weather service issued freeze warnings for tonight for parts of Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, south-central Texas, northern Mississippi and Alabama, and northwestern North Carolina.
8-Inch Snow Expected
Snow fell in the northern Mississippi Valley and the northern and central Plains and Rockies, with up to 8 inches expected in Colorado and 6 inches in upper Michigan.
Denver area motorists who didn't get an early start to work this morning were delayed because of numerous fender benders on icy roads covered with a thin layer of wind-blown snow.
"It's a real mess out there," said one woman as she hurried to her office in a southeast Denver office building.
Blowing snow in northeast Wyoming forced the Wyoming Highway Department to close sections of Interstates 90 and 25.