There's a common phrase among Southerners: "If you don't like the weather, wait five minutes."
The presumption is that it will get nice soon enough. These days, however, for millions of Southerners enduring unexpectedly cold weather, the wait will be much longer.
Jonathan Kurtz, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Norman, Okla., said cold air from near the Arctic Circle in Canada came into the Southern region of the United States and stayed for several days, causing lower temperatures than usual across the South.
Bitter cold has descended on large portions of the country, clogging rivers with ice, forcing schools to close and freezing a water tower in Iowa. The Midwest and New England are used to temperatures around or even below zero. Not so parts of Georgia, where Tuesday the thermometer read 13 degrees.
The frigid weather will remain a few days, with heavy snow in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. According to the National Weather Service, a quarter-inch of ice and a couple inches of snow are possible Tuesday night and Wednesday from portions of the Florida Panhandle to eastern North Carolina.
Here's a closer look at several Southern states:
After the National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning Tuesday that includes parts of southern Georgia, Gov. Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency for 28 counties.
In the northeast part of the state, it's been so cold people are running their heaters all night, adding stress to the electrical power system, said Greg Brooks, a spokesman for the utility Walton EMC.
A lifelong Georgian, Brooks said residents are used to mild winters, with temperatures usually in the low to mid-50s during the day, and night temperatures dipping into the mid-30s.