Ferociously cold weather continues to grip vast portions of the country Wednesday, with a frigid combination of ice, snow and strong winds triggering accidents, closing airports and prompting authorities to warn people to stay inside.
Forecasters expect a mix of freezing rain, sleet and snow from parts of northern Florida to North Carolina. Snow is expected north along the Mid-Atlantic into northern New England. Eastern New England could see blizzards late Thursday.
In recent days, at least 12 people have died across the U.S. because of the cold weather, The Associated Press reported.
The storm system has the potential to produce strong, damaging winds, downing trees and causing power outages. Additionally, Thursday afternoon, the storm could cause coastal flooding and erosion.
Winter storm watches and warnings are in effect from north central Florida northward through eastern New England.
In New York City, temperatures rose to the comparatively mild mid-20s on Wednesday, but weren't expected to surpass freezing the rest of the week and could fall as low as 3 degrees on Saturday, with the wind chill far lower.
The National Weather Service issued a winter storm watch warning for the New York City metropolitan area. The city could receive half a foot of snow or more beginning Wednesday night, with snowfall expected to occur at times at the rate of 1 inch per hour.
New York streets and parks were quiet Tuesday while some people posted images on social media of icicles hanging inside subway stations. The city's Department of Homeless Services issued a "code blue" emergency notice to help homeless New Yorkers find shelter.
Across the South and Midwest, forecasters urged residents to stay indoors, keep pets out of the elements and check on neighbors who are vulnerable to the cold.
In South Florida, forecasters warned of rip currents on Atlantic beaches, isolated thunderstorms and waves up to 11 feet for portions of the coast.
The National Weather Service in Chicago warned people spending any time outdoors to wear waterproof boots and cover their faces to avoid hypothermia and frostbite.
Across most of northern Illinois and northwestern Indiana, wind chill values of minus-20 to minus-25 degrees were expected Wednesday evening.
Across the South, millions of residents were experiencing unseasonably cold weather.
In Georgia, drivers were warned of slick roads and accidents were reported on Interstate 95, which runs along the coast. The Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport in Georgia and the Charleston International Airport in South Carolina were both closed Wednesday morning because of the storm.
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