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Ice storm, deep freeze wallop much of USA

5:18 PM, Dec 6, 2013   |    comments
Laura Perez scrapes ice off of her car as she prepares to drive to work in icy conditions Dec. 6, 2013, in Dallas. (Photo: LM Otero, AP)
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A major ice storm killed four people, disrupted thousands of flights and knocked out power to more than 200,000 people, leaving much of the south-central U.S. in a deep freeze Friday.

While a break in the storminess is forecast for Saturday, yet another winter storm is forecast to hammer the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast on Sunday, hitting an area from Washington, D.C., to New York City with a wintry mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain, AccuWeather predicted.

"Both Washington and New York City should see their first inch or two of snow of the season Sunday," AccuWeather meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said.

Winter weather warnings and advisories remained in place late Friday all the way from Texas to Massachusetts.

At least 220,000 people were without power in the Dallas area alone as of late Friday afternoon, according to power company Oncor. Thousands were also powerless in Arkansas, the state's power company Entergy reported.

More than 1,000 flights had been canceled at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, one of the nation's busiest airports, as of late afternoon. At one point, American Airlines grounded all flights at the airport because of the wintry weather.

Nationwide, flight-tracking company FlightStats reports that more than 1,700 flights have been canceled and another 2,115 delayed.

The blast of cold air and freezing rain forced the shutdown of schools, businesses and government agencies in several states.

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 Dallas-Fort Worth area was especially hard hit by the ice storm Friday, with dozens of traffic accidents reported. A marathon scheduled for Sunday was canceled due to the icy conditions.

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.

The cold also threatened farmers in the West: Growers across California have toiled this week to protect the state's prized $2 billion a year citrus industry and other key crops such as lettuce and avocados from the cold snap that engulfed the state, dropping temperatures to levels that can damage fruit and delay the harvest of greens.

Another cold spell is forecast for later in the weekend in California.

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.

Contributing: Doug Stanglin and Ben Mutzabaugh, USA TODAY; Associated Press


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