Snow, ice and freezing rain will strike states from Texas to New England through Tuesday, promising icy roads, power outages and general unpleasantness for much of the country.
Snowfall will begin early Sunday in West Virginia, move through the mid-Atlantic states and head for New York by Monday morning, the National Weather Service forecast. Freezing rain and sleet will follow from Tennessee into North and South Carolina before heading up the East Coast.
The poor weather in travel hubs including New York, Washington and Philadelphia are likely to cause flight delays that could ripple across the country and snarl traffic through the Monday morning commute.
"We're going to see a whole mix of precipitation, anywhere from snow at the onset across Pennsylvania, New Jersey and down to D.C., to sleet and freezing rain in the Shenandoah Valley," says AccuWeather meteorologist Danielle Knittle.
The newest round of wintry glop and gloom follows a freeze in Texas and the southern states on Friday that killed at least four people, caused massive traffic back-ups in the Lone Star State, disrupted thousands of flights and knocked out power to hundreds of thousands.
The treacherous conditions across much of the country dampened holiday festivities, too. In Carbondale, Ill., city officials rescheduled the annual Lights Fantastic Parade. In Nashville, organizers canceled the Christmas parade. Even St. Cloud, Minn., accustomed to frightful winter weather, called off its Santa Fun Run and Winter Nights and Lights Parade "due to dangerously cold temperatures" that were expected to dip below 0 degrees by late Saturday.
In Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia, officials began warning residents of a major ice storm likely to take shape Sunday, resulting in power outages and hazards on the roads. The forecast predicts one to two inches of snow, followed by freezing rain into Monday morning.
"Both Washington and New York City should see their first inch or two of snow of the season Sunday," AccuWeather meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said.
National Weather Service meteorologists in southwest Virginia warned of a "significant winter storm."
Knittle said more than a half-inch of ice buildup expected on I-81, western Virginia and central Maryland's main highway, could imperil travel.
Temperatures in Arkansas and parts of Texas remained below freezing Saturday, with another round of snow and freezing rain expected for Arkansas, southeast Oklahoma and north-central Texas into Sunday morning, the National Weather Service said. Snow there should end by midday, but freezing temperatures will remain in northern Oklahoma, northern Arkansas and northern New Mexico, the weather service said.
"Hopefully, we've made it through the worst of it," Keli Cain, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management said Saturday. The state opened shelters in southern Oklahoma after the storm toppled trees and knocked out power.
An ice storm hit the Dallas-Fort Worth area especially hard Friday, causing traffic accidents, power outages and airport delays.
Traffic on one highway near Denton County backed up for more than 10 hours overnight and the Texas Highway Patrol responded to more than 350 weather-related accidents, the Texas Department of Emergency Management said in a situation report Saturday. Police in Arlington, about 20 miles west of Dallas, reported one driver was killed when his car slammed into a truck. More than 139,000 people remained without power Saturday. Airlines cancelled more than 500 flights at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport, leaving more than 4,000 travelers stranded overnight.
The storm dumped a foot of snow and more in some areas of Illinois, with police scrambling to respond to dozens of accidents and forced scores of schools to remain closed.
Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe declared a statewide emergency, making it easier for crews to repair damage to trees and power lines. A state of emergency was also declared in the western and middle parts of Tennessee.
The storm is also delaying shipments of everything from Christmas presents to cooking grease: Wal-Mart had its truckers take extra goods to stores ahead of the storm, while Amazon and FedEx are notifying those waiting on packages that dangerous driving conditions are forcing delays.
Meanwhile, snow and difficult travel conditions were reported in parts of the West and the Rockies because of another winter storm.
Bone-chilling cold continued across the north-central U.S., with temperatures at or below zero across most of Montana, the Dakotas, Minnesota and Iowa. The temperature Friday morning in Great Falls, Mont., of 26 degrees below zero was colder than the 20 below zero reading at the South Pole in Antarctica, according to the National Weather Service.
While most of the country dealt with cold, wintry weather, parts of the Southeast and all of Florida continued to enjoy balmy conditions, with temperatures in the 70s and 80s under mostly clear skies. In North Carolina, record high temperatures were set in both Fayetteville (80 degrees) and Greensboro (76), the weather service reported.