CHICAGO – Snow, ice and rain fell Saturday in the Midwest and eastern parts of the U.S., a prelude to the Arctic temperatures due to arrive in the next few days.
The mix of precipitation affected a swath from the Oklahoma Panhandle — where several inches of snow were in the forecast — to southern New England, where up to a quarter-inch of ice is possible in the eastern Berkshires.
A mix of rain and ice factored into numerous accidents in Michigan and Ohio and threatened an outdoor hockey game in Toledo.
And parts of the southern U.S. saw heavy rain and thunderstorms, leading the National Weather Service to issue tornado watches and warnings in Mississippi and Louisiana and a flash flood watch for portions of Arkansas.
The weather service said a tornado was reported on the ground in the area of Oak Vale, Mississippi. Authorities had no initial reports of injuries or major damage.
Meanwhile, blowing and drifting snow was a problem in the northeast Colorado plains, while a blizzard warning was issued for northern North Dakota and Minnesota. Winds between 30 to 40 mph blew snow that fell overnight in the Red River Valley, weather service meteorologist Tom Grafenauer said.
That area will be the first to feel the effects of a strong cold front, he said, with temperatures reaching 20-below and wind chills approaching minus 50 by Sunday morning.
By Tuesday, parts of the Midwest will see below-zero temperatures, while lows will reach single-digits along the East Coast. The chilly weather is even expected to move as far south as New Orleans.
Meteorologist Ryan Maue of the private Weather Bell Analytics has called it "old-timer's type of cold."
National Weather Service's Weather Prediction Center: http://www.hpc.ncep.noaa.gov/index.shtml