A strong northwesterly wind is causing the storm forecast to cancel flights and classes across the US

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Tyrone McDault wore a long-eared, cheetah-style hat as he sorted out warm clothes at a homeless service center in Portland, Oregon. He was already wearing several layers, but without a roof of his own, he grabbed two more coats to help him face the harsh northwesterly cold.

“I hope I can get a shelter,” he said. “That would relieve a lot of the burden.”

A storm was expected to bring snow to Portland, a city more accustomed to winter rains, by Saturday. It's one of a wide range of storms that will bring everything from what the National Weather Service calls “life-threatening wind chills” in South Dakota to the possibility of tornadoes in the south.

Schools and flights were canceled early in the South and Midwest. Republicans are on the campaign trail Monday ahead of the Iowa caucuses They were battling a blizzard warning covering much of the state, and Nikki Haley's campaign canceled three Friday events and said it would hold “telephone town halls.”

Advocates were particularly concerned about homeless people and elderly residents frozen by snow or ice, especially in the Pacific Northwest, where winters are typically mild.

In one hour Thursday, during a lunch service at Blanchet House, a homeless services nonprofit in Portland, about 165 items of warm clothing were requested — including the coats McDougald grabbed.

Julie Showers, a spokeswoman for the nonprofit, said people are desperate for dry clothes and shoes after a cold shower.

“We're worried about frost, hypothermia,” he said. “A lot of people in Portland are experiencing homelessness, they're in mental health crisis … and they're slowly hypothermic on the street because they don't understand how cold it is.”

McDougalt, who has been homeless for the past two years, said: “I hope I don't have to do another whole winter here.”

The Chicago area could see up to half a foot (15 cm) of snow on Saturday, and advocates are also concerned. A growing population of immigrants Sent from the US-Mexico border. Hundreds are staying in eight parked “warming buses” to avoid sleeping outside while they wait for space in city-run shelters.

Among them was Angelo Traviso, a Venezuelan from Texas. He wore a light jacket and sandals with socks.

“I sat up and slept because there was almost no space,” he said. “The buses are also small and you practically have to stay inside because of the heat because it's bitterly cold outside.”

In Portland and Seattle, temperatures are expected to be in the mid to upper 20s (0 to -3.3 C) and low 20s and twenties (around -5 C to -7.7 C) Friday through at least Monday.

The homeless agency in King County, home to Seattle, implemented severe weather measures until at least Tuesday, working with cities to open shelters 24/7 and transportation partners to provide transportation to shelters.

Seattle City Hall served as a shelter for up to 40 people Thursday night.

Multnomah County, home to Portland, provided clothing and cold-weather items to outreach groups earlier in the week to distribute to those living outside, including fleece blankets, tarps, tents and sleeping bags, spokeswoman Denise Theriault said.

Cold weather has been dangerous for Portland's homeless population in the past. Two people died from the cold in 2022, an annual county report on homeless deaths found. That's down from eight deaths from hypothermia in 2021 – the same year four died from heatstroke. An unprecedented and devastating “heat dome” It hit an all-time high of 116 F (46.7 C) in Portland and broke heat records across the region. The heat wave killed hundreds across Oregon, Washington and British Columbia.

Portland winters don't have regular or prolonged snowfall, so the city's Department of Transportation only de-ices about one-third of the street surface.

Past snow and ice storms have effectively paralyzed the city 2017 And inside 2021When the rain freezes, dangerous snow and many icy trees break and fall on power lines, leaving hundreds of thousands without power.

Last FebruaryNearly 11 inches (28 centimeters) fell on the second snowiest day in the city's history, catching drivers by surprise and stranding them on freeways for hours.

Norman Suchitt, owner of Ankeny Hardware in Southeast Portland, said his store had to stay open more than two hours before closing Wednesday to serve all customers. This shop sells 3 to 5 tonnes of snow melt every day, he said.

“The snow shovels are going like crazy,” he said.

At higher elevations, heavy snow, high winds and white-out conditions engulfed the Cascade Mountains, making travel “extremely difficult and impossible,” the weather service said. New snow, measured in several feet in some areas, had already covered the layer earlier in the week.

A Avalanche at a ski resort Four people were swept away and one killed near Lake Tahoe in California on Wednesday.

In Idaho, A The search operation was conducted on Thursday Three people were caught in an avalanche in a backcountry area near the Montana border. The area was under avalanche warning for several days, with snow and winds creating unstable conditions on high, steep slopes.

Outside a tent in Seattle's International District on Thursday, David Dodds said he has a lot of experience with the cold: He was homeless in Alaska.

“During the winter, it might be time to make a new friend or two,” he said. “Two warm bodies under one blanket will go a long way. … This cold, when the temperature drops, it's no joke, and you can die.


Associated Press reporters Sophia Tareen and Melissa Perez Winter in Chicago and Manuel Valdez in Seattle contributed to this report.

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