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Snow, ice, deep-freeze hit large section of US

About 10 killed; many travelers are left stranded

Drivers were warned of dangerous conditions on Highway 121 in Fort Worth on Saturday.

Ross Hailey/Associated press

Drivers were warned of dangerous conditions on Highway 121 in Fort Worth on Saturday.

MEMPHIS — A late-fall cold snap that has gripped much of the country is being blamed for about 10 deaths and has forced people to deal with frigid temperatures, power outages by the thousands, and treacherous roads.

Weather forecasters say the powerful weather system has Virginia and the Mid-Atlantic in its icy sights next.

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Temperatures in Montana and South Dakota were more than 20 degrees below zero during the day Saturday while much of the Midwest was in the teens and single digits. Wind chill readings could drop as low as 50 below zero in northwestern Minnesota, weather officials said.

Icy conditions were expected to last through the weekend from Texas to Ohio to Tennessee, and Virginia officials warned residents of a major ice storm likely to take shape Sunday, resulting in power outages and hazards on the roads.

In California, four people died of hypothermia in the San Francisco Bay area. About a half-dozen traffic-related deaths were blamed on the weather in several states.

More than 100,000 customers in the Dallas area were without power Saturday, along with about 7,000 in Oklahoma and thousands more in other states. Some 400 departing flights from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport were canceled, the airport said. About 3,330 passengers stayed overnight in the terminals.

Icy, treacherous sections of Interstate 35 north of Dallas were closed for hours at a time over the last day as tractor-trailers had trouble climbing hills, wrecks occurred, and vehicles stalled, authorities said.

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Jody Gonzalez, chief of Denton County Emergency Services, said about 200 people were in shelters in the Sanger area after getting stuck on the highway. People in that area of I-35 were driving through ruts in 4-inch-thick ice, he said.

In Virginia, state Emergency Management spokeswoman Laura Southard said the storm had the potential to be a ‘‘historic ice event.’’

‘‘This forecast is very concerning to us,’’ Southard said Saturday. ‘‘I’ve worked multiple disasters, but I’ve never worked an ice storm with a forecast like this. It’s just really important for everybody to take extra precautions.’’

The weather forced the cancellation of countless events, including Sunday’s Dallas Marathon, which was expected to draw 25,000 runners, some of whom had trained for months, and the St. Jude Marathon in Memphis, expected to include 20,000. However, the football game between Central Florida and Southern Methodist in ice-covered Dallas went on in front of a sparse crowd.

Meanwhile, around 7 inches of snow fell in northeast Arkansas and the Missouri boot heel, according to the National Weather Service in Memphis, and 8 to 9 inches fell in parts of southern Indiana.

The storm dumped a foot of snow and more in some areas of Illinois, with police scrambling to respond to dozens of accidents and forced scores of schools to remain closed.

Ice accumulated on trees and power lines in Memphis and the rest of West Tennessee after layers of sleet fell throughout the region Friday but most roads were passable Saturday.

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