Nightly News   |  December 06, 2013

Winter weather blankets US, creating havoc

Snow and ice is leaving much of the country in a deep freeze making for a white-knuckle commute from Texas to Ohio. And in California, farmers are doing everything possible to save their citrus crops. NBC’s Ron Mott reports and Weather Channel meteorologist Jim Cantore takes a look at the forecast.

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>>> in this country for millions of americans tonight the news is a massive ice storm churning through the center of the country east of the mississippi river , most of it. several deaths are being blamed on the storm. it's going to be a big factor on into the weekend. we begin our coverage with nbc's oh ron mott in memphis for us tonight. ron , good evening.

>> reporter: hey, brian. good evening to you. here's what we are dealing with in memphis . freezing rain is coating the trees, as you can see here. they have a big marathon planned for tomorrow. tonight it's the cars running on the icy roads and they are trying to get home safely the from texas to ohio. getting from point a to point b has been dicey today as a major winter storm pounded the country with tomorrow and ice, cutting power to more than 300,000 who could face at least one cold, dark night .

>> winter storm warnings for north central arkansas.

>> reporter: in arkansas, fear was a factor on the roads.

>> i'm more scared of the other drivers than i am the road conditions.

>> reporter: in texas , a broken water main triggered a geyser. heavy snow collapsed carports. the weekend's dallas marathon cancelled. in kentucky, windshields were frozen over. a snow plow caught fire in wisconsin. slick going in indiana.

>> felt like my car was kind of weaving back and forth just because it was so slick.

>> reporter: the system is massive, blanketing a large swath of the nation from texas to new england.

>> better get out of here before i run into somebody.

>> reporter: state of emergencies were declared throughout the zone including jackson county , illinois. others were left spinning in snow. in memphis , where the king was frosty, trucks loaded up to fight as much as an inch of ice forcing schools and businesses to close. travel trouble extended to the skies. more than 2,000 flights cancelled today, most in dallas , stranding thousands of passengers.

>> gets us in trouble.

>> reporter: out west another blast of wintry weather is causing havoc. farmers are burning pitch pits to save their crops. ron mott, nbc news, memphis .

>>> the reason folks east of the mississippi need to be concerned is what the storm did west of the mississippi. let's go to weather channel meteorologist jim cantore in dallas . talk us through where this is headed.

>> nothing can come good of this. if you look at the temperature map, jordan, montana, was 30 degrees below zero . two storms. the first one continues to move up through the mississippi valley and heading into the northeast with ice and snow. here's the second storm with add viedsryes all the way to the coastline into california and nevada again. saturday, after the storm produces snow on the las vegas strip it comes back out with ice and sleet once again in these same areas that got it today. sunday, the snow pushes across washington, d.c., possibly as far north as new york. it will change to rain but not before a messy rush hour along i-95. once the storm pulls out the nation is left in the deep freeze with record setting low for the southwest.

>> jim cantore in dallas on a friday night.