From Texas to Maine, a storm swept in frigid temperatures and snow, putting portions of 23 states and more than 70 million people under winter weather alerts.
In Houston, the cold accompanying the storm was deadly. One homeless person died from hypothermia, the city's fire chief Samuel Peña said.
Forecasters said the "very cold" temperatures would hang around until Thursday, meaning people in the affected states from the Northeast to the South, could continue to see icy roads and hazardous conditions for the next two days.
In Tennessee, which had the coldest pockets in the South, wind chill temperatures plunged as low as -10 degrees on Wednesday morning. Nearly 35 million people are under wind chill advisories.
A major concern Wednesday is that the storm system is moving in during the morning commute hours across Southern cities, which could cause difficult driving conditions, said CNN meteorologist Pedram Javaheri.
The Mid-Atlantic and Northeast is expected to see light snow. But Raleigh, North Carolina, could be the bull's-eye for the storm and get 4 to 6 inches of snow. Atlanta could get about 1 to 2 inches.
Although accumulation is light, it "could lead to slippery travel given the recent stretch of cold temperatures," tweeted the National Weather Service.
Governors of Alabama and North Carolina have declared a state of emergency. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency for 83 counties in the northern and central sections of the state.
Some school systems, like Atlanta and Houston, announced they wouldn't open Wednesday. Classes were canceled at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke University, and North Carolina State University.
In Houston, snow is no longer falling, but it's so cold that ice and snow is staying put. The low temperatures could refreeze the roads.
On Tuesday, drivers dealt with hazardous conditions as cars slipped and spun out of control. Police responded to 278 crashes as of Tuesday evening, 104 of which were major, said Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo.
The snow has been moving toward the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast, and expanding northward into New England, according to the National Weather Service Prediction Center.
The Northeast could see generally about 2 to 4 inches of snow, New York about 1 inch, and Boston about 2-3 inches. The storm is not expected to be a blockbuster event and there should be relief later in the day.
"As you go into the afternoon, evening hours, the system is pushing off the eastern seaboard," said Javaheri.