(ABC News) — The entire Gulf Coast region was paralyzed on Wednesday morning with hundreds of schools and flights canceled and interstates shut down.
A state of emergency has already been declared in North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Louisiana due to the winter weather moving through the region. Schools in at least 10 states, including major cities like Houston, Philadelphia and Boston, were either canceled or delayed.
Alabama went to the extreme step of canceling classes for every public school in the state — about 727,000 students — on Wednesday.
Hundreds of accidents were reported Tuesday in the Houston area as the storm began to move through. In Georgia, car crashes resulted in blocked roads in multiple locations on Wednesday due to a dangerous layer of ice beneath the snow.
“There are multiple crashes that are blocking interstates and state routes across the state which are severely impeding our efforts to clear roadways,” Georgia Department of Transportation state operations engineer John Hibbard said in a statement Wednesday. “The safe decision is to heed warnings and stay off the roads.”
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Storm alerts have been issued from the Gulf Coast to the Northeast, with even a freeze watch for usually warm central Florida.
By early afternoon, the snow will move into Raleigh, North Carolina, where a winter storm warning has been issued for 3 to 6 inches of snow.
Snow will continue in the Northeast Wednesday afternoon, with the heaviest falling just east of Boston and north of New York City.
During the evening rush hour, major delays are expected in the Carolinas from Columbia to Raleigh.
Snow will be falling around Norfolk and Richmond, Virginia, where slick roads are also expected.
When all is said and done, the heaviest snow will fall in western Massachusetts and into northern New England where 9 inches is possible in the highest elevations.
A half a foot of snow is also possible in North Carolina.
Cold air follows behind
The cold air follows the storm all the way into the Gulf Coast and Florida for the next couple of days.
Wind chills on Wednesday morning all the way to the Gulf Coast are in the single digits and teens.
Thursday morning will be the coldest in the Southeast and into Florida, where a freeze watch has been issued for Tampa. A wind chill advisory was issued for Fort Myers.