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At least 20 million Americans were in the path of a deadly winter storm Wednesday that was expected to dump snow from northern Texas to southern Virginia and threatened to snarl commutes in cities including Dallas and Atlanta.
School closures were ordered and states of emergency were declared in Georgia and Alabama — the latest impact of an Arctic chill that has set records across much of the nation.
Between 3 and 5 inches of snow was likely across the southern Plains and the South, forecasters said. Some areas — including northern North Carolina and northern Georgia — were bracing for up to 8 inches.
“It’s going to be enough to accumulate on roads,” Weather Channel lead meteorologist Kevin Roth said.
The snow was due to hit northern Texas early Wednesday, creating a messy morning commute in Dallas before moving towards Tupelo, Mississippi; Birmingham and Hunstville, Alabama; and Atlanta in time for the evening rush hour.
Downtown Atlanta was not expected to see heavy snow, Roth said, but northern suburbs could see between 5 and 8 inches, and transportation officials were taking no chances.
"We are definitely more than prepared to handle another winter weather event,” Georgia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Annalysce Baker said. “We have a lot of crews … coming up from south Georgia to help. Even though we've applied … brine mixture there still made be some slick spots on the roads, so drive slowly.”
Two people were killed in accidents on snow and ice- and snow-covered roads in North Carolina, the Highway Patrol said Tuesday, while the number of deaths linked to recent winter weather in Tennessee rose to 30.
A slew of temperature records fell from Ohio to Vermont on Tuesday, while Boston passed 100 inches of snowfall in its second-snowiest winter on record. Fresh snow in the early hours of Wednesday sent the total to 100.2 inches. The record, set in 1995-96, is 107.6 inches.
Temperatures remain below freezing across most of the Northeast — although many areas are no longer below zero, Roth said.
Separately, a Clipper storm was set to bring between 5 and 8 inches of snow to already frozen Iowa and the Upper Midwest on Wednesday, including up to 3 inches for Chicago and St Louis.