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Frozen nation: At least 11 dead as cold, ice and snow grip US

Deadly weather has gripped the U.S., cancelling flights and causing deaths. The cold weather is expected to continue, with snow and ice in the forecast. NBC's Mark Potter and TODAY's Dylan Dreyer report.

Arctic air, snow and freezing rain was expected across parts of the U.S. Saturday from California to the Northeast, as the winter storm that has killed 11 people continues to wreak havoc.

The Weather Channel forecast rain, freezing temperatures and snow in areas from the Golden State into the southern Rockies on Saturday and then a lighter dusting in the Midwest by Sunday -- but the dangerous threat of more freezing rain. Temperatures as low as 27 degrees were expected in usually mild Las Vegas and surrounding areas, while New England was set to get the tail end by Monday.

The deaths of at least 11 people — including three in California and the mayor of a small Missouri town — were blamed on the deep freeze, which canceled hundreds of flights and left hundreds of thousands of people without power.

The Santa Clara County, Calif., Sheriff's Office said hypothermia — an extremely low body temperature — had killed three people since frigid conditions rolled in late Wednesday, NBC Bay Area reported. An earlier report from the medical examiner's office said four people had died, but it included a person who was found dead last week, before the current weather system hit the region.

With icy conditions stretching almost coast to coast, the cold blast was blamed for deaths as far east as Indiana, where a woman died in a four-vehicle crash in Wayne County, and as far south as Arkansas, where an ice-coated tree fell on the camper housing a 62-year-old man in Pope County, authorities told NBC News. 

Stephen Lance Dennee / AP

A man helps pull a motorist from the ditch in Paducah, Ky., as snow falls Friday.

Other weather-related deaths:

  • Ronald Arnall, mayor of Granby, Mo., died when his truck slid off icy State Route 97 and struck a tree Wednesday in Lawrence County, the State Highway Patrol said. 
  • A 16-year-old girl was killed when she lost control of her car on a slush-covered road a quarter-mile from school Wednesday in Lakeville, Minn., police said. The car slid sideways and was struck broadside by a vehicle traveling in the opposite direction.
  • A 55-year-old man was killed when he was ejected from a car that lost control Wednesday on a highway near Sioux City, Iowa. The car crossed the median of the highway, which was 100 percent ice-covered, and was struck by a freight truck traveling in the other direction, the Iowa State Patrol said.
  • A man was discovered dead under an overpass Wednesday in subfreezing temperatures in Oklahoma City, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol said.
  • The body of a man was found behind a convenience store Wednesday night in Carson City, Nev., after temperatures fell into the single digits, the coroner's office said.
  • A driver was killed when his car slammed into a truck Friday in Arlington, Texas, near Dallas, police said.

North Texas was especially hard hit: About 165,000 people were still left in the dark Friday night after sleet weighed down power lines and snapped tree branches. Dallas called off its marathon for this weekend, with many of the thousands of expected runners unable to get there.

More than 1,600 flights were canceled at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. And sister airlines American and American Eagle, which are based in Fort Worth, canceled about 1,370 flights across the country because of the weather in Texas.

"We are far from over here," said Jim Cantore, a storm tracker for The Weather Channel. With a morning low forecast to be 17 degrees, the Dallas area could have "big problems, especially with these winds continuing to blow everything around."

Five states had recorded at least 2½ feet of snow since Wednesday. The highest total was 35 inches, near Two Harbors, Minn.

Winter storm warnings covered parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio. The manager of a Home Depot store in Dallas concluded: "It's almost like a Black Friday. But I guess we'll call it an Ice Friday."

Full coverage from The Weather Channel

The dangerous ice storm that's sweeping the country is causing cars to slide across slick streets, and low temperatures are preventing the ice from melting. TODAY's Dylan Dreyer reports.

Only a slice of the East Coast was spared the winter blast. Elsewhere, the story was ice, snow and brutal cold.

Big Sky Country suffered double-take temperatures Friday. It was 23 degrees below zero in Laramie, Wyo., and felt like 41 below. In Helena, Mont., the mercury fell to 10 below, with a wind child of minus-29.

The big chill extended to parts of the country much less accustomed to it. Parts of Nevada were at 18 below zero, and parts of Oregon were at 9 degrees. In Flagstaff, Ariz., the temperature just before dawn was 7.

Even "sunny" Southern California wasn't being spared — the National Weather Service issued winter storm warnings for Riverside and San Bernardino counties beginning Saturday morning.

Farmers pumped water into the soil to keep it from freezing and used wind machines to blow mild air across the citrus crop, most of which is still on the vine. Citrus in California is a $2 billion industry. Lettuce and avocados were also in danger.

"They're like a popsicle inside," a farmer told NBC Los Angeles after his persimmons froze.

Farther east, the danger was more immediate. Half a foot of snow fell on southern Illinois and 3½ inches on the Indianapolis airport, with 5 to 8 inches more expected throughout the Friday.

Driving conditions were dangerous in many parts of the country:


  • As many as 12 vehicles piled up on the icy Red River Bridge in North Dakota between between Fargo and Moorhead on Friday, causing almost a dozen others to spin out, NBC station KVLY of Fargo reported. Two were being treated at hospitals.
  • Ice on a state road sent a woman skidding and tumbling into a yard in Germantown, Ohio, where her car came to rest upside down, NBC station WDTN of Dayton reported. She was wearing her seat belt and wasn't injured.
  • An Arkansas state trooper was injured Friday morning when a pick-up truck slid off Interstate 40 near Stuttgart and rammed into his patrol car. The trooper, whose injuries were't life-threatening, was sitting in the car alongside the freeway finishing up an investigation of an earlier wreck, the state patrol said.

The bad weather forced the cancellation Saturday of the ceremonies marking the 72nd anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and the lighting of the state Capitol in Little Rock, neither of which will be rescheduled. 

More than 40,000 people were without power across the state Friday, NBC station KARK reported.

By the time the storm marches east, to the population centers of the Northeast, it is mostly expected to dump rain, making for a wet weekend in New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington.

For the West, a second punch was on the way. A storm system was descending on the West Coast from Alaska, expected to dump snow on coastal Oregon and Northern California on Friday, and the Sierra Nevada range on Saturday.

Then it will head for the Midwest, which is in for a "double whammy" of winter weather Sunday, said Michael Palmer, a lead meteorologist for The Weather Channel.

Christopher Essner, Azhar Fateh and Alexander Smith of NBC News contribbuted to this report.


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