A band of severe weather from tornadoes to icy blasts left at least seven people dead as winter storms and severe weather pushed up the East Coast on Sunday, bringing record high temperatures to Philadelphia and New York City but ice storms to parts of New England.
The eastern half of the country was getting a "plethora of winter weather" just days before the Christmas holiday, according to the National Weather Service.
"This storm is bringing a little bit of everything, from rain, flooding and wind, to ice and snow in some areas," said NWS meteorologist Bruce Sullivan. "What is really extraordinary about this system, though, is the warm air."
The system is expected to linger over the East Coast until Monday, snarling road and airline travel for millions of people during one of the busiest travel periods of the year. Major airports in Philadelphia and New York City were experiencing delays Sunday because of wind and visibility, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
Hundreds of flights across the United States were cancelled on Sunday, according to the aviation tracking site, FlightAware.com flight website.
The unusual storm system brought a brief winter heat wave to northeastern cities with Philadelphia and New York City logging record high temperatures on Saturday and Sunday.
The temperature in New York's Central Park topped out at 71 degrees on Sunday, breaking a 1998 record of 63 degrees, the weather service said. The temperature had reached 65 degrees in Central Park on Saturday, breaking a 2011 record of 62 degrees. Temperatures in Philadelphia reached a record 68 degrees on Sunday.
In Washington D.C., the temperature was hovering "about 40 degrees warmer than normal," Sullivan added.
Farther north, in upstate New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine were pummeled by an ice storm after the warm air hit an arctic layer, he said.
Thousands of people across New England were without power on Sunday and motorists were urged to use caution after up to two inches of ice coated roads and power lines. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a winter ice storm emergency in four counties in the state's north and west.