An unusual cold snap will have people as far south as Louisiana reaching for their winter coats Wednesday.
A mass of cold air that saw temperatures in the Plains plummet below freezing Tuesday has now shifted east and will hang over a large area of the inland U.S.
The National Weather Service issued freeze warnings for states from New York to Arkansas as well as Illinois and Louisiana. Forecasters warned that young spring plants and blossoming fruit trees were at risk if they were not protected.
While people in the Northeast are used to icy temperatures at this time of year, the drop will take millions of Americans by surprise further south - with Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia all facing chilly conditions.
"It's going to be cold when people step outside," said Kevin Roth, lead meteorologist at The Weather Channel. "There is no precipitation and the roads are not expected to get icy, but people will need their winter coats and to put their car heaters on."
Temperatures north of the Ohio Valley could drop to as little as 20 degrees Fahrenheit, Roth said. Further south in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas temperatures would be between 28 and 32 degrees, he added.
Conditions would be slightly warmer to the north with Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., expected to stay just above freezing on Wednesday.