DALLAS - Freezing rain and stinging winds slammed the Southwest on Friday and made a strangely blank landscape out of normally sun-drenched North Texas: mostly empty highways covered in a sometimes impassable frost, closed schools and businesses, and millions of residents hunkered down for icy conditions expected to last through the weekend.
Earlier in the week, many in Texas were basking in temperatures that hit the 80s. But by Thursday, the state was facing the same wintry blast that has slammed much of the nation, bringing frigid temperatures, ice, and snow.
The weather forced the cancellation of Sunday's Dallas Marathon, which was expected to draw 25,000 runners. A quarter of a million customers in North Texas were left without power, and many businesses told employees to stay home to avoid slick roads.
Friday's storm stretched from South Texas, where anxious residents bagged outdoor plants to protect them from the cold, through the Midwest and Ohio Valley, and into northern New England and the Canadian Maritimes.
In California, four people died of hypothermia in the San Francisco Bay area, according to the Santa Clara County coroner's office. Rosie Dominguez, a spokeswoman for the office, confirmed the deaths and their cause but provided no further information.
The weather led to more than 1,000 cancellations at Dallas-Fort Worth International, one of the nation's busiest airports and a key hub for Fort Worth-based American Airlines. Many travelers were stuck waiting - and hoping for another flight. Those arriving in North Texas were having trouble finding cabs as many drivers stayed home. Dallas-area light rail trains were not running.
Police in Arlington, about 20 miles west of Dallas, reported one driver was killed when his car slammed into a truck. Authorities in Oklahoma reported two weather-related traffic deaths.
Storms this week dumped one to two feet of snow in parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin and draped many communities in skin-stinging cold. The temperature in parts of North Dakota on Thursday was a few degrees below zero, but wind chill pushed it to nearly 40 below.