Icy blast hits South as winter spreads its reach

Story highlights

  • Federal government offices in the Washington area will be closed Tuesday
  • CNN meteorologist: Ice buildup could knock out power, complicate travel
  • States affected include Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Alabama, Kentucky, Georgia and Virginia

(CNN)Salt trucks rumbled and traffic jammed as a massive new storm brought snow, freezing rain, ice and frigid temperatures to a large swath of the United States on Monday.

"It's dangerously cold," Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser told CNN's "The Situation Room," warning that the nation's capital was bracing for up to 8 inches of snow. And federal government offices in the area will be closed on Tuesday.
But the snow isn't the only thing to worry about.
    "We are going to see high snowfall amounts, but the ice is what is going to be the big story," CNN meteorologist Jennifer Gray said, pointing at North Carolina.
    Raleigh, North Carolina, could see up to a half-inch of ice, which could knock out power and "makes travel nearly impossible," she said.
    The bitter cold is coming from several fronts. This weekend, the Northeast weathered its fourth snowstorm in three weeks, and extremely low temperatures are predicted to hang around for two more weeks.
    A winter storm stretching across the Midwest and Southeast is bringing freezing rain and ice accumulation, especially from Arkansas to Tennessee.
    Late Monday, Tennessee declared a state of emergency as road conditions quickly deteriorated and power outages spiked.
    Temperatures across the eastern half of the United States will be below average for the entire week, and that's a big deal as winter fatigue sets in.
    In Boston, where 95 inches of snow have already been recorded this year, the latest storm was expected to skirt by and bring a few more inches, Gray said.
    This February is the city's snowiest month ever.
    Frank Ippolito, the owner of a snow removal business operating in Boston, said his staff was weary from lack of sleep.
    At this point, his snowplow drivers are putting snow "anywhere and everywhere there's an open piece of land that won't obstruct the view safely of the driver or prevent someone from getting out of a doorway or moving a car," he said.
    Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said one man died after suffering a heart attack while shoveling snow.
    "Please stay close to your home today -- shovel in short stints," he said.
    Mounting "snow rage" is pitting drivers and neighbors against each other as the winter weather shows no sign of letting up, CNN affiliate WFXT reported.
    "We've been noticing a little frustration out there on the roads," Massachusetts State Police trooper Kathryn Downey said. "I think people are getting pushed to their limits."
    Margo Souza of Charlestown, Massachusetts, told CNN's iReport she was trying to take the snow in stride, even though it has doubled her commute. Her golden retrievers, Logan and Copley, love to bound around in it.
    Margo Souza and her pup, Logan, overlooked the Boston Harbor Monday morning. The snow is taller than Logan and the top layer of the bay is frozen.  
    Still, she said she was hoping her city's baseball team might bring something with them when they head south for spring training.
    "Send the snow to Florida," she said, "along with the Red Sox equipment."
    One New York resident, Max Guliani, posted photos on Twitter of the frozen fountain at Bryant Park in New York City.
    A pipe burst at the city's iconic Empire State Building, forcing one of its observatories to shut down, a spokeswoman said.
    In Ithaca, in upstate New York, temperatures have gotten so cold that even the city's tourism website is telling people to head to the Sunshine State.
    "That's it. We surrender," the website says. "Winter, you win. Key West anyone?"
    Winter weather at a glance

    Do you see mountains of snow or freezing rain outside your window, but have friends in Florida or California who don't understand the big deal with the severe winter weather?

    Pick a weather factoid to share with them (via CNN meteorologist Brandon Miller):

    • Wind chills in the Northeast make it feel as cold as -40 degrees Fahrenheit (-40 Celsius).

    • Monday was the coldest morning in Boston since 2004, at -3 degrees Fahrenheit (-19 Celsius).

    • More than 55 million people live in areas that are currently under a wind chill warning or advisory.

    • An additional 50 million are under winter storm warnings, stretching from Oklahoma to South Carolina and up to New Jersey.

    It's cold outside

    As a weary Northeast remains buried in snow, the South and Midwest are gearing up for a messy mix of snow, sleet and ice.
    Snowfall records have been broken in the Northeast, and now, more than a dozen other states, stretching from Kansas and Oklahoma to North Carolina and Virginia, are bracing for inclement weather.
    It's the South's turn for snow, sleet and ice
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    "It's been about 10 years since we've had something this significant," said Doug Hamilton, chief of public services in Louisville, Kentucky.
    In Lexington, plows are working around the clock, Mayor Jim Gray told CNN affiliate WLEX.
    Already, he said, parts of the city have seen between 6-11 inches of snow, which he described as "very unusual."
    Southern Indiana could see up to 10 inches of snow, while northern Kentucky faces between 8 and 14 inches, the National Weather Service said.
    "Travel will be treacherous with some roads nearly impassable," the National Weather Service warned. "Have an emergency kit of blankets, food, water and flashlights if you must travel."
    In addition to slick roads, trees may come down because of snow accumulations, causing power outages. Forecasters warned residents in affected areas to defer travel on rural roads until Tuesday.
    Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley ordered various agencies on alert, including the Emergency Management Agency, the state National Guard and law enforcement agencies.
    "State agencies are on standby to coordinate resources to support the needs of Alabama counties if necessary," he said.
    In Missouri, St. Louis braced for heavy snow Monday, possibly into overnight, CNN affiliate KMOV reported.
    School districts in cities such as Little Rock, Arkansas, shut down in expectation of wintry weather.
    Nashville saw relentless freezing rain starting before dawn Monday, and snowplows were already at work. Three to 7 inches of snow are forecast there in the next 24 hours.
    Southwest Airlines on Monday canceled all flights to and from Nashville International Airport, airport spokeswoman Shannon Sumrall said.
    Southwest accounts for more than half of the commercial flights at the airport, she said. Only a handful of Delta and American Airlines flights departed Monday.

    Winter is relative

    Wintry weather is in the eye of the beholder.
    The Northeast is urging drivers to stay off roads as the fourth storm in three weeks drops snow that, for Boston, has exceeded 45 inches in February alone.
    It takes a fraction of that to get residents in the South into emergency mode. Sometimes, it doesn't even have to snow; just the possibility of wintry weather is enough for a partial shutdown.
    The Weather Service issued a winter storm watch for northern Georgia, warning of potential snow and ice accumulation on the roads.
    Temperatures dropped in the Atlanta area Monday, and even though the forecast suggested the snow/ice mix would fall farther north, some school districts closed out of caution.
    Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency for 15 northern Georgia counties and asked state workers there to work from home if they're not involved in emergency response.
    "The danger, of course, with moisture on our roadways and the temperature dropping, is the fear of black ice," Deal said, according to CNN affiliate WSB. "And that is the most significant threat that we see."
    Residents loaded up on food and other supplies, memories of last year's storm probably fresh in their minds.