Two dozen states have been hit by a powerful winter storm. In some areas, visibility was near zero, and every snowplow has been working around the clock. NBC's Janet Shamlian reports.
Winter came out swinging Tuesday as the second storm of the week pummeled the nation's midsection and the East Coast hunkered down for an overnight onslaught of snow and ice.
All told, more than 115 million people in 32 states were in the path of a storm that threatened to cut power, ground flights and snarl traffic — again. Governors in states from Arkansas to New Jersey declared emergencies.
"It's another one of these significant snow storms, covering a large swath of the country," said Kevin Roth of The Weather Channel, who added that a long arm of the Northeast — from central New York into New Hampshire and northern Massachusetts — could be pounded by more than 12 inches of snow.
"Tomorrow morning's commute looks to be pretty unseemly for them," he said.
Bebeto Matthews / AP
Pedestrians skip over slushy snow Monday in midtown Manhattan.
The storm was expected to hit the Northeast just after 8 p.m. Tuesday, Roth said, just a day after the region was walloped with fat flakes. Major cities like New York, Philadelphia and Washington will likely avoid the worst, but officials cautioned residents to brace for bone-chilling rain and ice.
The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for New York City beginning overnight and running until 6 p.m. Wednesday. Utility company Con Edison warned residents that a combination of snow and freezing rain could trigger power failures across the city. Meanwhile, another storm warning was out for the northern counties of New Jersey.
The storm smashed through the Plains on Tuesday, hitting Kansas and Oklahoma with snow that forecasters said could stack up to as much as a foot before moving north to drop 5 to 8 inches on Chicago, Cleveland, Indianapolis and Detroit, Roth said.
By 8 p.m. ET, 1,598 flights into or out of U.S. airports had been canceled, about a third of them at Chicago O'Hare International Airport.
The National Weather Service issued winter storm warnings across 15 states early Tuesday from the Rockies to southern Maine.
"It's going to be like a hammer coming down I-70," said Jim Cantore, a meteorologist for The Weather Channel, reporting from Kansas City, Mo.
Marissa Ellison, a spokeswoman for the Missouri Transportation Department, said road conditions throughout northeast Missouri were "awful," with whiteout conditions in many areas.
"We currently have a no-travel advisory out, and it needs to be taken seriously," Ellison told NBC station WGEM.
The chill that has descended across the nation isn't going away any time soon. NBC's Al Roker reports.
"There's a shortage out there, a supply issue of getting salt to the depots and then to us," Dunn said.
At least one person was dead in Des Moines, Iowa, in a collision on a slippery road, police said. A truck lost control Tuesday morning, skidded across the median and into incoming traffic. It was hit by a Chevrolet Cavalier, whose driver was pronounced dead at the scene, police told NBC station WHO.
In Kansas — where as much as a foot of snow was expected to blanket the streets — lawmakers postponed legislative duties and state departments told employees to stay home for the day, according to the AP. Meanwhile, classes were nixed throughout the state.
As they braced for another round of wicked weather, many people on the East Coast were still reeling from Monday's dump of snow and ice.
At least two deaths and one serious injury could be blamed on Monday's storm and its cleanup: In western Kentucky, where the snow began to fall Sunday, a 24-year-old man died after his car skidded into a snowplow, officials told NBC station WFIE of Evansville, Ind.
Meanwhile, in New York, a 73-year-old man was struck and killed by a snowplow that was backing up on a Brooklyn street, police told NBC New York.
A 10-year-old girl also was recovering at home Tuesday after she was impaled in the back Monday by a metal rod while sledding in Jarrettsville, Md., north of Baltimore, NBC station WBAL reported.
A third storm is also likely to form over the weekend, said Guy Walton, a forecaster with The Weather Channel, although it's too early to tell the storm's orientation or path.
Millions in the U.S. have already suffered from an unforgiving winter, especially through the month of January. And last week, Southern states like Georgia and Alabama were caught flatfooted by just a few inches of snow — leaving motorists and schoolchildren unable to get home.
M. Alex Johnson and Henry Austin of NBC News contributed to this report.