In North America and Asia, extreme cold weather characterized the winter of 2017-18. At the same time, the Pacific, the Bering Sea, and the Atlantic Arctic regions experienced anomalously low sea ice extent in the early winter. The jet stream dividing cold Arctic air from warm air deviated from normal zonal patterns northward into the ice-free areas north of the Bering Strait. Large southward jet stream pathways formed over Asia and America, allowing cold air to spread into Asia and the southern areas of North America. We hypothesise that the late autumn Bering Strait sea-ice anomaly and Pacific atmospheric rivers were partially responsible for the cold winter. We used data analyses and numerical experiments to test this hypothesis. We propose a positive feedback mechanism between the sea ice anomaly and atmospheric river activity, with anomalous south winds toward the sea ice anomaly potentially leading to more warm water injected by the wind-driven current through the Bering Strait. Our findings suggest that Poleward propagation of the atmospheric rivers made upper air warm, leading to their upgliding, which further heated the overlying air, causing poleward jet meanders. As a part of this response the jet stream meandered southward over Asia and North America, resulting in cold intrusions. We speculate that the positive feedback mechanism observed during the 2017-18 winter could recur in future years when the sea-ice reduction in the Pacific Arctic interacts with enhanced atmospheric river activity.