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Cold, but much more

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By The Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013, 1:36 a.m.

An icy blast of arctic air sent temperatures plunging as much as 40 degrees below normal Tuesday across the western half of the nation soon as a storm snarled roadways in the Rockies and threatened citrus crops in California.

The cold snap was expected to spread as far south as Texas by the weekend before turning east, AccuWeather meteorologist Tom Kines said.

“It's a pretty impressive air mass that's coming down out of Canada,” he said. “Everybody affected will see temperatures 20, 30 degrees below normal. Some areas will be 40 below normal.”

The storm hit the northern Rockies on Monday and Tuesday, dumping up to 2 feet of snow in the mountains and in Yellowstone National Park.

Temperatures were expected to fall below zero with wind chills dropping below minus 20, said National Weather Service meteorologist Dave Bernhardt in Great Falls, Mont. Montana has not experienced such cold weather over a prolonged period of time since the late 1990s, he said.

The weather presents frostbite dangers, and officials warned residents to take precautions.

Snow and ice made for hazardous driving throughout the West and were a factor in a deadly four-vehicle crash in central Montana.

The weather closed a stretch of Interstate 90 on Tuesday between Sheridan and Buffalo, Wyo. In eastern Oregon, authorities closed much of Interstate 84 as trucks jackknifed in the snow.

In the Dakotas, ranchers who lost thousands of cattle in an October blizzard braced for the latest onslaught, with wind chills of 40 below zero expected .



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