US & Canada

Arctic blast hits Canada and US

Custer Park in Bismarck, North Dakota Image copyright AP

Parts of Canada and the US have been getting their first blast of winter, sending temperatures plummeting by as much as 22C (40F) in days.

The sharply cooler temperatures are a result of frigid air pushed in by a powerful storm that hit Alaska with hurricane-force winds.

There have been more than two feet of snow in parts of Michigan.

And more than 150 flights were cancelled at the Minneapolis airport.

The chill is now spreading into the Pacific Northwest.

National Weather Service meteorologist Justin Titus said roads on the peninsula were in a "very poor condition" with two to three inches of snow falling an hour on Tuesday morning.

North America freeze

  • 27C/48F drop in Alberta temperatures in past three days

  • 33cm/13in snow fell in Wisconsin in first winter storm

  • 22C/40F temperatures plunge below seasonal average

  • 50 years since Calgary experienced a warmer October

AP

In Minnesota, state police said at least two people were killed in accidents on icy roads.

Snowy roads were blamed for a Wisconsin school bus crash that sent two adults to hospital, according to a local broadcaster.

Terri Sommerfeld, a clerk at Ace Hardware in Webster, Wisconsin, said the store had sold six or seven snow-blowers in two days, the same amount they sell in a typical winter.

The National Weather Service said the snow should begin to ease on Wednesday.

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Media captionNina Ridge explains why a kink in the jet stream is to blame

What made this chill more of a shock was the way it struck so quickly after warm autumn weather.

David Phillips, a climatologist for Environment Canada, says Calgary experienced its warmest October for 50 years. The average temperature was 8.3C and it's usually 5.2C.

On Saturday afternoon, he said, Calgary was 14.4C but it dropped 32 degrees in the next 36 hours.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Children enjoying the snow in Minneapolis
Image copyright AP
Image caption A visitor braves freezing temperatures at Fort Logan National Cemetery in Sheridan, Colorado
Image copyright AP
Image caption Snow falls in downtown Colorado Springs
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption A jack-o-lantern smiles from the doorstep of a home in Minneapolis