Temperatures in all 50 states dipped to freezing or below Tuesday as a cold blast moved across the country.
In Buffalo, N.Y., where cold weather is the winter norm, a lake-effect storm dumped more than 4 feet of snow, staggering the city. At least four people were killed in the storm, CNN reports.
"I can't remember and I don't think anyone else can remember this much snow falling in this short a period," Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz told CNN.
Meanwhile, Southern states braced for a record chill from the Arctic-born cold.
Every state, including Hawaii, was smacked with temperatures at the freezing point of 32 degrees F or below, the National Weather Service said.
Hawaii's Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano, had low temperatures of 30 F to 32 F , according to NWS spokeswoman Susan Buchanan.
Climatologist John L. Casey, a former space shuttle engineer and NASA consultant, is out with the provocative book "Dark Winter: How the Sun Is Causing a 30-Year Cold Spell," which warns that a radical shift in global climate is underway, and that Al Gore and other environmentalists have it completely wrong. [Get "Dark Winter" with Free Offer — Click Here]
The earth, he told Newsmax,
is cooling, and cooling fast.
Tuesday morning was the coldest overall across the country in November since 1976, according to Weather Bell Analytics, a meteorologist consulting firm.
Among the hardest hit was western New York, where a storm dumped as much as 4 feet of snow in some areas and prompted officials to call states of emergency in three towns near Buffalo, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement.
A 140-mile stretch of the New York State Thruway along Lakes Erie and Ontario was closed because of the snow, according to Thruway Authority spokeswoman Christina Klepper.
A bus carrying 24 members of the Niagara University Women's Basketball program was stuck on a highway by the storm, CNN affiliate WIVB reported. The team was coming home from a game in Pittsburgh when the snowstorm hit about 1 a.m.; by 2 a.m., the bus wasn't moving, CNN reports.
The bus with players and coaches – and two young children – pulled over on the side of the road in West Seneca. Tuesday night, 16 hours after they got stranded, the team was still awaiting rescuers and was running out of food, CNN reports.
"We've been stuck on the bus.... So you kind of get the gist. There is currently no sign of progress," director of basketball operations Renee Polka told WIVB.
CNN meteorologist Chad Myers called the phenomena thunder snow.
"The steam from the lake ... [is] still much warmer than the air," he said. "The air is in the teens and the water in the 40s. That steam comes up and wants to rise. That rise... creates a thunder storm but it's so cold it doesn't rain. It just snows."
Record-setting lows were expected in northern Florida, with temperatures dipping below 20 degrees F around Tallahassee and in the Panhandle, said Amy Godsey, a meteorologist with the state Division of Emergency Management.
In Milwaukee, Wis., 20 degrees F was the day's high.
"You should embrace it," Markeyta Walker, said near a bus stop. "Dress warm in layers and be happy."
Reuters contributed to this report.
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