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Arctic air brings bone-chilling temperatures to US

By Lawrence Davidson, CNN

(CNN) -- Blasts of Arctic air have brought weather-related deaths, record low temperatures and historic amounts of snowfall to parts of the United States.

Four people died Tuesday in a crash in Kansas in a wreck attributed to icy roads. Erie, Pennsylvania, is under nearly 64 inches of snow -- the height of an average adult female. International Falls, Minnesota, set a record low of -36 degrees Fahrenheit on Wednesday morning, breaking the 1924 record of -32 degrees.

"When the city known for being the nation's cold spot breaks a record like that, you know it's cold," CNN meteorologist Brandon Miller said.

Temperatures will be 10 degrees cooler than usual, except in California, the Southwest, South Texas and South Florida, Miller said.

"The core of the coldest air is shifting from the Midwest to the Northeast today and it will be one of the coldest endings of the year for many," in the region, he said. Arctic air coming through Canada at the end of the week will make New Year's Eve more chilly than usual.

The National Weather Service has issued extreme-cold advisories in parts of the Northeast, Midwest, West and New England -- warning people to keep as much skin covered as possible to protect from frostbite.

Frostbite is a danger to exposed skin within 30 minutes of being in the elements, the weather service said. Wind chills can lead to hypothermia.

Law enforcement agencies are warning people to watch for icy conditions even if the roads appear clear. The Kansas car wreck that killed four females, a 47-year-old mother, a 20-year-old woman and two teenagers happened on a raised bridge in Dickinson County, which is in the north-central part of the state, Kansas highway Patrol Trooper Ben Gardner said. The vehicle hit the bridge guardrail and went over it, falling 25 feet onto its top, the report said.

The weather service has detailed winter weather reports region by region.

Correction: An earlier version of this story gave an incorrect figure for the 1924 record low in International Falls, Minnesota. It was -32 degrees; not -24 degrees.

The-CNN-Wire

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