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A major ice storm that has disrupted hundreds of flights and locked North Texas in a deep freeze was spreading Friday as far east as Kentucky, bringing the threat of heavy snows and major power outages to a wide swath of the country.

Arkansas was bracing for a major blast of cold air, forcing the shutdown of schools, businesses and government agencies.

Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe declared a statewide emergency, making it easier for crews to repair damage to trees and power lines.

Most of southern Missouri was under winter weather warnings. Forecasters expected up to 8 inches of snow by Friday evening.

Winter storm warnings and watches and an ice storm warning were in effect for Western Tennessee, which could see ice on the ground for a day or more. A state of emergency has been declared in the western and middle parts of The Volunteer State.

This storm will push into the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast on Sunday, slamming an area from Washington, D.C., to New York City with a wintry mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain.

temps

Most of the north-central portion of the USA are enduring temperatures near zero degrees today, while the Southeast has temperatures in the 70s and 80s.(Photo: AccuWeather)

Meanwhile, another winter blast was moving in behind this system, bringing subzero temperatures, snow and difficult travel conditions to northern Arizona.

The big danger from the wintry mess throughout the affected area was the strong potential for downed power lines and very slick driving conditions, according to the National Weather Service.

The Dallas-Fort Worth area was especially hard hit, with dozens of traffic accidents reported Thursday evening and into early Friday.

In Fort Worth, a section of the Mixmaster – a major interchange of I-35 and I-30 – was shut down completely early Friday after several vehicles got stuck, the Star-Telegram reports.

"We've seen some problems with large rigs, particularly double-trailers, being stuck up there," said Val Lopez, spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety, the newspaper reports. "They seem to have more of a problem getting traction than other vehicles."

Nearly 175,000 residential and business customers in the area were without power, according to the utility Oncor.

Southwest Airlines, based on Dallas, canceled nearly 80 flights while Fort Worth-based American Airlines and American Eagle canceled nearly 500 flights through Friday morning.

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