Skip to main content

Arctic blast grips Midwest, traffic pileups on snowy roads

By Greg Botelho and Joe Sutton, CNN
updated 7:08 PM EST, Mon January 21, 2013
  • NEW: One person killed in Ohio accident that involved 86 vehicles, a fire official says
  • NEW: Deadly pileup is one of many multiple-vehicle crashes in Ohio due to blinding snow
  • NEW: Snows are tied to a mass of Arctic air moving east from the Dakotas
  • NEW: Wind chill advisories and warnings posted in parts of 14 states

(CNN) -- A massive cold weather system pushed perilously cold temperatures from the Upper Midwest to the Mid-Atlantic on Monday, triggering blinding snows in some areas that spawned a number of traffic pileups in Ohio alone, including one fatal accident.

Residents of 14 states, from North Dakota to Virginia, faced wind chill warnings or advisories due to frigid temperatures combined with strong winds heading into Tuesday.

But the possibility of light snow around President Barack Obama's inaugural festivities in Washington did not materialize despite colder temperatures. The day saw a mix of sun and clouds with temperatures mostly freezing. The January cold did not dissuade hundreds of thousands of people from turning out on the National Mall for the festivities.

It was a different story in Brainerd, Minnesota, where residents braced for readings of 26 degrees below Fahreinheit on Monday night. Wind chills would make it feel more like 30 to 40 below, according to the National Weather Service.

Overnight temperatures in Pittsburgh should be just above freezing with wind chills at 14 below.

It is all part of a mass of Arctic air moving east on Monday from the Dakotas, bringing bone-chilling temperatures and occasional snow. More sustained snows fell around the Great Lakes region.

Snowstorms hit Europe

That's been the case in much of Ohio where low visibility and snow-covered roads caused serious traffic crashes.

Near whiteout conditions from a snow squall spurred one of the worst accidents in Colerain Township, about 12 miles north of Cincinnati.

The pileup involved 86 vehicles, including 70 cars and 16 commercial vehicles, along a roughly quarter-mile stretch of Interstate 275, according to Colerain Township Fire Capt. Darian Edwards.

One person was killed and 20 others were transported to area hospitals, Edwards said. Authorities rescued four people from three vehicles in three different spots along the highway.

Around the same time and about 30 miles east in Warren County, heavy snow and low visibility contributed to a crash on Interstate 75 that involved 52 cars, said Ohio State Highway Patrol Sgt. Sean Whickman.

Ten people were sent to hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries and part of the highway was closed for four hours, he added.

Another whiteout near Columbus caused a 23-vehicle crash on Interstate 270 in Westerville, said Lt. Jeff McIntyre of the city's fire department. Four people went to hospitals with minor injuries, he said.

The highway was shut down for more than two hours.

Several people about 55 miles north in Mansfield suffered minor injuries in an accident on Interstate 71 that involved 21 cars and four semis, according to a state highway patrol dispatcher.

All four of these crash sites are among the hundreds of communities under wind chill advisories.

At 30 below zero, frostbite can occur in as little as 10 minutes with the slightest winds, and in five minutes in a brisk breeze, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns.

Newborns, the elderly and the homeless can quickly fall victim to hypothermia.

"Cold weather puts an extra strain on the heart," the CDC said, also noting that overexertion can become even more dangerous to those with heart conditions in the Arctic cold.

Although such deep freezes are potentially deadly, they are not uncommon in the upper midsection of the United States.

CNN's Ben Brumfield and Jessica Jordan contributed to this report.

Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:26 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
updated 7:09 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
updated 1:01 PM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
updated 10:48 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
updated 12:07 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
updated 7:15 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
updated 7:06 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
updated 7:37 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
updated 7:27 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.