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Snow, ice and crashes as even Texas and Louisiana shiver under winter's worst

Erik S. Lesser / EPA

A woman walks past a frozen fountain in Atlanta on Friday.

The latest — but certainly not the last — brutal blast of winter weather stretched so far south Friday that even Texas and Louisiana got a taste of the pain.

Ice caused traffic accidents all over Houston, and sleet slicked rooftops outside Austin. Freezing rain was reported in Baton Rouge, and snow fell within 150 miles of the Mexican border. Fort Hood was closed to all but essential military personnel.

Alexandria, La., where it snows roughly once every five years, had an inch on the ground for only the 23rd time on record, said Jonathan Erdman, a meteorologist for The Weather Channel.

Elsewhere, it was bitterly cold. Still.                                     

Single-digit temperatures stretched as far south as the Carolinas, and it was 0 degrees as people drove to work in central Kentucky. Burlington, Vt., woke up to 9 below, and Chicago was 11 below. Wind chills in the Great Lakes approached 30 below.

Icy conditions resulted in hundreds of accidents in Texas. The cold also hit Louisiana where plow and salt trucks are seldom needed, while other states coped with frozen waterways and frozen water hydrants.

Not only will there be no relief in the days ahead, but it’s going to get worse. Repeated surges of arctic air this weekend and early next week will rival the conditions of the infamous polar vortex of earlier this month, forecasters said.

The Great Lakes, Ohio Valley and Northeast are all in for snow on Saturday, and then comes the severe cold. By Tuesday morning, the temperature should be 16 below in Chicago, 22 below in Minneapolis and 9 below in Cincinnati.

An arctic jet stream is bringing cold weather throughout the nation in an unusual pattern that's lingering longer than normal.

 

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