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Texas, Southern Plains Locked in Ice, but Rapid Warming on the Way

Millions of Americans Remain Under Winter Weather Alerts 2:44

Ice coated northern Texas and the southern Plains on Sunday as a kaleidoscope of winter weather warnings covered the region through early Monday. But relief was on the way.

"Over the next 24 hours, whatever precipitation type you can think of, it will likely happen across the Panhandles" of Texas and Oklahoma, the National Weather Service said Sunday.

Even the all-powerful National Football League had to change its plans, delaying Sunday afternoon's American Football Conference playoff game in Kansas City, Missouri, between the Chiefs and the Pittsburgh Steelers by several hours.

Almost 35,000 customers remained without power across Texas and Oklahoma on Sunday evening, utility companies reported. Road crews were busily laying down salt and sand across the region with a quarter to a half an inch of ice expected on roads, trees and power lines by Sunday night.

"It's always nice to get that extra income from a snow event or ice event," Drake Allen of Allen Lawn Care and Landscaping in Vandalia, Iowa, told NBC station WHO of Des Moines.

The frigid storm system was blamed for at least five deaths Friday and Saturday: three in Missouri, one in Kansas and one in Oklahoma. (Authorities later determined that a sixth fatal accident, in Kansas, wasn't related to the weather.)

IMAGE: Nebraska accident
Two semi-trucks slammed into each other and exploded into flames Sunday on Interstate 80 near Kearney, Nebraska. No one was hurt. Ashland, Nebraska, Fire Department

Two semi-trucks slammed into each other and exploded into flames Sunday morning on ice-slicked Interstate 80 near Kearney, Nebraska, the Ashland Fire Department said. Fortunately, no one was injured in the inferno, the Nebraska State Patrol said, but I-80 was closed for several hours.

Almost 200 National Guard members were activated in Kansas, where Gov. Sam Brownback declared a state of emergency.

"I think the big concern that we've been looking at is you've got a good likelihood of some power lines going down," Brownback said Sunday.

Two state troopers were struck by a vehicle Sunday morning on Interstate 635 in Kansas City, Kansas, Trooper Candice Breshears told NBC station KSNT of Topeka, Kansas. The state Transportation Department said no one was injured.

It could have been worse, forecasters said.

The northern edge of the storm, from eastern Colorado to southern Minnesota, was still expected to get significant accumulations of snow and sleet overnight and into Monday. But the system was beginning to dissipate sooner than had been expected south of that line Sunday as slowly rising temperatures moved the freezing line farther north, the National Weather service said.

As a result, winter weather and ice warnings were being changed to watches and advisories across the region.

Once the storm finishes moving through early Monday on its way east, "we are going to experience a warmup," said Nick Walker, a meteorologist for The Weather Channel.

Temperatures as much as 30 degrees above normal are expected in the eastern part of the country as far north as Boston — "even places like Pittsburgh will see above-average temperatures by 20 to 25 degrees, with a 55-degree high on Tuesday," Walker said.