Bitterly cold temperatures across U.S. and what to watch in tonight’s Iowa caucuses : Morning Rundown – PPT News

Iowa caucusgoers will cast the first votes of the 2024 presidential campaign. Dangerous weather advisories stretch from coast to coast. And lava consumes homes in Iceland after a volcano erupts. 

Here’s what to know today.

What to watch for in tonight’s Iowa caucuses

Kelsea Petersen / NBC News

The first votes of the 2024 presidential campaign will land tonight as Republicans — along with independents and Democrats who choose to switch parties — participate in the Iowa caucuses. 

Subzero temperatures are forecast statewide, setting the stage for what could be the coldest caucus day on record. The temperatures likely affected turnout at events held over the weekend and continue to threaten participation tonight. Former President Donald Trump has expressed confidence that his supporters are the type who would “walk on glass” for him and hardly be deterred by minus-20 wind chills. 

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Trump appears to be the favorite in Iowa, with the final NBC News/Des Moines Register/Medicacom Iowa poll finding that he holds nearly a 30-point lead. Unless the polls are monumentally wrong, the real suspense lies in the race for second place. Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis have been battling to see who can head into the upcoming primaries with more momentum.

Will dangerous winter weather freeze turnout? Who will win the battle for second place?

Here’s what else NBC News is watching for in the 2024 Iowa caucuses. 

 More Iowa caucus coverage: 

Medical mistakes are more likely in women and minorities

As a Black woman, Charity Watkins is among two of the groups most likely to experience a medical misdiagnosis.
As a Black woman, Charity Watkins is among two of the groups most likely to experience a medical misdiagnosis. Kate Medley for KFF Health News

Charity Watkins sensed something was wrong when she experienced exhaustion after her daughter was born. When Watkins, who is Black, complained of a cough, her doctor blamed the flu. About eight weeks after delivery, her husband took her to the emergency room when she thought she was having a heart attack. After a long wait in a North Carolina hospital, she returned home to nurse her baby without seeing a doctor. Three days later, Watkins was diagnosed with heart failure. She spent two weeks in intensive care. 

Watkins is among 12 million adults misdiagnosed every year in the U.S. Women and minorities are 20% to 30% more likely than white men to experience a misdiagnosis, said Dr. David Newman-Toker, a professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. 

Dangerous coast-to-coast winter weather advisories affect tens of millions in U.S.

Frigid Weather Hammering the US Threatens to Upend Iowa Voting
Icicles on a home during a winter storm ahead of the Iowa caucus in De Soto, Iowa on Jan. 14, 2024.Rachel Mummey / Bloomberg via Getty Images

Another day of extreme winter weather is in store across the continental United States, with warnings of wind chill, snow and freezing conditions in place for millions. The National Weather Service said temperatures could reach -30 degrees with wind chill in the Plains region and -50 in Montana and the Dakotas.

A series of dangerous winter storms impacted tens of millions of people across the United States over the weekend. From the West Coast to the Great Lakes, communities were pelted with a wintry mix, and thousands of flight delays were reported nationwide.

Navy SEALs missing after going overboard during search for weapons near Somalia

Two Navy SEALs are missing after falling into rough, nighttime seas while raiding a small ship off the coast of Somalia, two U.S. defense officials told NBC News. The SEALs were trying to climb into a type of small boat known as a dhow Thursday night when one of them fell in amid the rough seas, the defense officials said. A second sailor jumped in to rescue the first, as protocol dictates, and both disappeared into the darkness, the officials said.

The two sailors, attached to a Naval Special Warfare Command unit, were searching sailboats in the Gulf of Aden looking for illegal goods such as weapons or drugs. 

Al Jazeera Gaza bureau chief who lost family covering Israel Hamas war says he won’t use his platform ‘for revenge’

Al Jazeera correspondent Wael Dahdouh speaks with NBC News from Gaza.
Al Jazeera correspondent Wael Dahdouh speaks with NBC News from Gaza.NBC News

After losing his wife, two sons, daughter and a grandson in Israeli airstrikes since Oct. 7, Al Jazeera Gaza bureau chief Wael Al Dahdouh has come to embody the painful sacrifices that come with covering Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip. “The cost is very high, but at the end of the day we ask ourselves, what is the other option?” he told NBC News’ Ayman Mohyeldin. “We sit in our homes, waiting for missiles to land, leave this job, give up this humanitarian message that we delivered? This is definitely not an option.”

Mohyeldin and Al Dahdouh talked about reporting on the front lines of the historic war between Israel and Hamas and described the painful toll of unspeakably personal tragedy.

More on the Israel-Gaza war: 

  • A U.S. fighter jet shot down an anti-ship cruise missile fired toward an American destroyer in the Red Sea from Houthi militant-controlled areas of Yemen, the U.S. military has said. The first attack by the Iran-backed rebels after American-led strikes will add to fears of regional escalation after deadly new clashes on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon. Follow live updates.

Bite mark analysis has no basis in science, experts now say. Why is it still being used in court?

Keith Harward.
Keith Harward.NBC News

No evidence connected Keith Harward to a rape and murder, but he happened to be among a group of Navy sailors docked in Newport News, Virginia, who were required to give dental impressions, since the assailant had been wearing a Navy uniform.

Two forensic dentists told two separate juries that Harward’s teeth matched “to a scientific certainty” a bite mark on the rape victim’s skin. Harward spent 33 years in prison until, with the help of the Innocence Project, he was exonerated in 2016 by DNA evidence that pointed to another sailor as the killer. Four governmental bodies have said bite mark analysis has no basis in science. Yet it’s been used in many criminal cases, and no court has ruled it inadmissible.

Lava consumes homes in Icelandic town after new volcanic eruption

Seismic activity had intensified overnight and residents of Grindavik were evacuated, Icelandic public broadcaster RUV reported. This is Iceland's fifth volcanic eruption in two years, the previous one occurring on December 18, 2023 in the same region southwest of the capital Reykjavik. Iceland is home to 33 active volcano systems, the highest number in Europe.
AFP – Getty Images

Iceland’s president said the country is battling “tremendous forces of nature,” after molten lava from a volcano in the island’s southwest consumed several houses in the evacuated town of Grindavik. President Gudni Th. Johannesson said that “a daunting period of upheaval has begun on the Reykjanes peninsula,” where a long-dormant volcanic system has awakened.

A volcano on the peninsula erupted for the second time in less than a month on Sunday morning. Authorities had ordered residents to leave the fishing town of Grindavik hours earlier as a swarm of small earthquakes indicated an imminent eruption.

Politics in Brief

Hunter Biden: House Republicans said they will issue new subpoenas for President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, after his lawyer said he would comply if lawmakers issue a new “proper” one.

Government funding: House and Senate leaders reached an agreement on a short-term spending deal that would avert a government shutdown in the next few weeks. The deal would keep the government funded until March. 

Donald Trump: A network of public interest groups and lawmakers are nervous about the former president’s potential return to power and devising plans to foil any effort on his part to pressure the U.S. military to promote his political agenda.

Staff Pick: Upselling “premium” travel

Photo illustration of a split image of a standard plane and a "gold-plated" plane; a price sticker that reads "Upgrade?" is overlaid on top of the image
Leila Register / NBC News; Getty Images

Consumers who got a taste of higher-end amenities in recent years aren’t keen to go back to basic economy, and the travel industry doesn’t want them to. The most deep-pocketed consumers are still splashing out on high-priced getaways and exclusive experiences, travel bookers and industry experts tell Harriet Baskas. Now, airlines, hotels and cruises are prodding passengers with less lavish means to take advantage of upgrades, too — in some cases revising down what counts as “luxury.” — Rich Bellis, senior business editor

In Case You Missed It

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With winter weather ravaging much of the U.S., you might wish you had a cozy pair of slippers. To find slippers that are equal parts warm and functional, our Select team talked to podiatrists to learn about the best options this season

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