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Deep Freeze: Millions of Americans Shiver as Winter Storm Gains Strength

Millions in U.S. Caught in Arctic Deep Freeze 2:16

Harsh winter weather blanketed the United States Friday from coast to coast — and the bitter cold and snow were expected to last through the weekend across a huge part of the country.

About 200 million Americans are under wind chill advisories as frigid air combined Friday with snow, making for a messy morning commute for much of the northern half of the U.S.

The Pacific Northwest, the first to get hit by the winter storm, was digging out Friday from the icy chaos that killed one person in Oregon, a man in his 50s who was found covered in ice and snow in his driveway Wednesday night in Albany, the Linn County Sheriff's Office said.

Why Is it So Darn Cold? 1:08

Now the storm is forecast to roar across the Plains and smack the Midwest and Great Lakes region by Saturday morning. Forecasters say it could dump 2 feet of snow in Yosemite National Park in Nevada and parts of Wyoming and Utah.

It won't get much better as the storm barrels toward the East Coast. In New York City, where one to two inches of snow is expected heading into the weekend before turning into freezing rain, officials issued a hazardous travel advisory from midnight to 10 a.m. Saturday, and warned New Yorkers to be cautious while driving, walking, or biking.

The storm is forecast to slam the eastern third of the country, especially parts of Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York around the Great Lakes, by Saturday morning.

That area was already walloped this week.

In Greenwich, upstate New York, two boys were buried in a snow fort they had been carving out when crews clearing sidewalks unknowingly dumped a load on them.

Joshua Demarest, 13, and Tyler Day, 12, were both alive when they were pulled from the snow, but Joshua was later pronounced dead at Saratoga Hospital, Cambridge-Greenwich Police Chief George Bell said.

Tyler was recovering at home from hypothermia.

"This is a true tragedy," Bell said. "Tyler tells his dad and my officers in the emergency room ... that he heard what he believed was beeping sounds, and the next thing you know, it went black."

Meanwhile, in Oswego County, New York, an 18-year-old passenger in car that skidded out of control on a snow-covered county route was killed in a crash Thursday morning, state police said.

Elsewhere in upstate New York, in Liverpool, a woman's body was found in an ice-covered creek Thursday night after her car apparently crashed in whiteout conditions, the Associated Press reported.

Elsewhere on Thursday night, three people died in separate car crashes in freezing rain in the Oklahoma City area, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol said. Temperatures in the Oklahoma Panhandle are expected to swing from Friday highs in the mid-70s to a wind chill of 20 below zero Saturday afternoon.

And in Pennsylvania, Interstate 80 was back open Friday after white-out conditions led to a 59-car pileup on Thursday.

Related: What Is a Polar Vortex? Here's Everything You Need to Know

Frigid temperatures were expected to combine with more snow Friday and into the weekend. Green Bay and Madison could both get more than a foot of snow by the weekend, forecasters said.

It wasn't just the cold that was affecting temperatures, though. Wind chills in the negative degrees made it feel positively arctic in some places, such as at Mount Washington Observatory in New Hampshire's White Mountains, where a wind chill of 86 degrees below zero was recorded.

"The temperatures are just awful, but it's the wind chills that are worse," said NBC News weather anchor Dave Price.