The mercury dropped to record lows overnight in many parts of Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi. It dropped to 21F (-6C) in New Orleans, breaking the previous record of 23F (-5C), set in 1977. In Alabama, the thermometer dropped to 7F (-14 C) in rural Lamar County, and in Maryland, the weather service warned of wind chills down to -10F (-23C).
Temperatures were expected to remain below freezing throughout the day in much of the region as electricity usage surged to record highs.
At least 8 inches of snow fell in Durham and Greensboro, North Carolina, icicles hung from statues in normally balmy New Orleans, and more than an inch of snow brought Atlanta to a near-standstill.
The beach in Biloxi, Mississippi, got a light coating of snow, parts of Alabama got at least 3 inches, and as much as 4 inches north into Virginia.
At least four people died in Louisiana, two in Georgia, one in West Virginia, two in the freezing Houston area, and one in a snowy park in Memphis where the temperature hovered around 10F.
Along the Gulf Coast, stretches of I-10 were closed in Louisiana and across Alabama’s Mobile Bay.
All this in a corner of the country ill-equipped to deal with snow, ice, and record-breaking cold.