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Winter Storm Uri: South grapples with snow and ice from polar vortex

Brittany Crocker
Knoxville News Sentinel

An arctic blast descended on the South on Monday, leaving the region grappling with downed power lines, closed interstates and temperatures so low they look like they're readings from the Upper Midwest.

More than 700 flights have been canceled and COVID-19 testing sites have been shut down as icy runways and roads make vast swaths of the region impassable.

In most of the Mid-South, meteorologists expect precipitation to take a break Tuesday, though cold temperatures may persist. Snow, sleet, rain and wintry mixes may resume in some areas Wednesday. For up to date information about your area, please visit usatoday.com/weather.

More:More pileups on icy roads, power outages as snow, bitter temperatures fueled by polar vortex bring havoc to much of nation

Here's the latest:

Alabama

Alabama is in a state of emergency as authorities warn about slick, dangerous roads and possible power outages as the wintry weather moved into the western half of the state.

Meteorologists expect temperatures will dip from just above freezing into the upper teens Monday night. Tuscaloosa County is under a winter storm warning through midnight Monday, and schools have canceled classes because of freezing rain and possible ice accumulation.

Temperatures will fall sharply Tuesday in Tuscaloosa, with lows forecasted in the mid- to lower-teens. Lows Monday in Montgomery fell into the low 20s. Meteorologists expect a short respite in the mid-30s Tuesday before temperatures drop again into the mid-20s.

Arkansas

Meteorologists said snow accumulation across Arkansas ranges from as little as 2 inches to as much as 10 inches in isolated parts of the state. Wind chill is expected to feel as cold as -15 degrees in western parts of the state, including Fort Smith, where temperatures are expected to stay below freezing through Tuesday. 

From Arkansas: Updates, radar as winter storm is expected to move through area

Louisiana 

Parts of Louisiana may see as much as 5 inches of snow before Winter Storm Uri moves out of the area, according to National Weather Service meteorologists. 

Temperatures dropped to 21 degrees in the South Louisiana city of Houma on Monday. But bitter wind chills made it feel more like 10 degrees ahead of rain that is expected to set in on Tuesday.  

Lafayette Parish is under a stay-at-home order, and the Louisiana Department of Transportation has closed many of the bridges, overpasses and interstate ramps in northeastern Louisiana.

Monroe and Shreveport regional airports canceled flightswhile crews fight to de-ice the runways.

From our Louisiana partners:Alexandria plans for possible closures due to ice storm on Sunday, Monday

Mississippi

A state of emergency has been declared in Mississippi after the National Weather Service put most of the state under a winter storm warning.

Sleet and slow accumulations through Tuesday morning range from half an inch in the southeast to as much as 5 inches in the northwestern parts of the state. Ice accumulations range from one-tenth to one-fourth of an inch.

Temperatures are expected to fall into single digits by Tuesday morning in the northwestern parts of the state and dip into the teens further south and east. 

The Mississippi State Department of Health closed COVID-19 testing sites Monday. Schools closed ahead of the storm and state officials are reporting power outages, iced-over roads and bridges and delays to home heating fuel deliveries. 

Officials have urged travelers to stay home. Multiple pile-up vehicle crashes have occurred on slick roads, and one person died in a Simpson County crash.

West and Middle Tennessee

Residents in West and Middle Tennessee awoke to freezing temperatures and a thin layer of ice Monday morning. Many scheduled flights were canceled or delayed at the airports of Memphis and Nashville due to hazardous weather conditions.

As the winter storm moved into Memphis on Sunday, Shelby County authorities warned of "dangerously low" temperatures. Sunday's snow flurries turned into sleet and snow overnight. Temperatures dipped into the low teens Monday morning with wind chills at zero. Meteorologists expect snow accumulations ranging between 5 and 9 inches through Tuesday morning, with wind chills as low as -10. 

In Middle Tennessee, snowfall accumulations are expected to reach 2 to 3 inches in Nashville to as much as 4 to 6 inches in Clarksville, which is more than the city has received in years.

Tennessee Senate Committee announced Monday it would close meetings scheduled for Tuesday because of the inclement weather. Middle Tennessee State University in Rutherford County closed its campus Sunday and Monday.

Officials have warned residents of hazardous road conditions throughout the region. More than 230 property damage crashes and 40 injury crashes were reported Sunday between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. when the storm moved into Nashville.

From Nashville:'It was insane': Icy roads caused 21-vehicle wreck on I-24 on Saturday

A Maury County Fire Department engine overturned Sunday on a slick, ice-covered road while in-route to a call in Columbia, Tennessee.  

A Maury County Fire Department engine was responding to an emergency when it overturned after slipping on black ice on Highway 166 North in Hampshire, Tenn., Sunday, Feb. 14, 2021.

In Wilson County, westbound Interstate 40 closed for a few hours Monday when a tractor-trailer rashed on the slick road. South of Nashville in Williamson County, cold weather prompted authorities to close about 20 road sections, including portions of Nolensville Road, on Sunday.

Williamson Medical Center and Williamson Medical Group closed all of its clinics Monday.