Schools were closed Wednesday in towns and cities across the region. The weather affected Texas, Alabama, Florida, South Carolina and other southern states which are usually unaffected by Northern winter.
Emergency declarations were issued in several southern states. Temperatures in Atlanta fell to 14 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 10 Celsius), the coldest in memory for many residents. New Orleans shivered at 30 Fahrenheit.
Vehiclular movements in many places were hit and it took more than 24 hours restore traffic flow. Thousands of desperate motorists ditched their cars to seek shelter at roadside shops and convenience stores, where they slept on floors overnight.
Georgia said at least one person had been killed in the cold snap and that more than 1,200 traffic accidents were reported.