WATCH: Frigid temperatures trail storm dropping more snow on South
The southeastern U.S. awoke on Wednesday to a two-part Arctic mess. First came a thin blanket of snow and ice, and then came the below-zero wind chills.
The snowfall sabotaged morning rush hour even before it began, sending cars crashing into each other on major thoroughfares throughout the region. Officials urged people to stay off the slick roads if possible and to bundle up and wear layers of clothing if they ventured outside.
Ryan Willis, a meteorologist for the National Water Service based in Peachtree City, south of Atlanta, said the forecast called for 1 to 1.5 inches (2.5 to 4 centimetres) of snow to fall in metropolitan Atlanta through Wednesday morning, with localized higher amounts.
Gov. Nathan Deal issued a state of emergency for 83 counties, spanning much of central and north Georgia.
The same slippery conditions and dangerous wind chills swept across several southern states Tuesday, shutting down interstates, triggering highway crashes, closing airport runways and prompting widespread school closings. Snow fell in a wide band that stretched from southeastern Texas all the way to western Massachusetts.
Forecasters said up to 4 inches (10 centimetres) could fall in central North Carolina as the system pushed northward, with a couple of inches expected farther east. Northwestern South Carolina could get up to 2 inches (5 centimetres) of snow, the weather service said.
Snow also was forecast Wednesday for parts of Alabama, where Gov. Kay Ivey shut down government offices as a precaution.
Many schools districts in Louisiana will remain closed for a second straight day Wednesday, as the precipitation gives way to single-digit wind chills that keep icy roads from thawing.
The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development announced the closing of Interstate 10 in both directions between Baton Rouge and Lafayette. Steep on and off-ramps, as well as elevated roadways, are concerns to public safety in icy conditions, it said in a news release Wednesday night.
Alek Kroutmann, a National Weather Service meteorologist based in Slidell, Louisiana, said the Baton Rouge forecast calling for a low of 19 degrees (-7 Celsius) Wednesday would fall just shy of the record for that date in Louisiana's capital city: 18 degrees (-8 Celsius) on January 17, 1977.
Potentially hazardous wind chills prompted schools to close Tuesday across Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Kansas and Missouri.