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US winter freeze: Icy rain, slick roads before the thaw

Drivers from South to North are warned to expect icy roads on Monday.

Posted Updated

Susannah Cullinane
Joe Sterling (CNN)
(CNN) — Drivers from South to North are warned to expect icy roads on Monday.

Light freezing rain is forecast to cause dangerous, slick conditions over a swath of the Southeast into the afternoon. Atlanta, getting ready for the college football national championship game between Georgia and Alabama and a visit from President Donald Trump, should be rid of the icy rain hours before kickoff at 8:17 p.m.

Sleet and freezing rain are forecast for late afternoon along the Northeast Corridor and those nasty, icy elements are expected bedevil motorists and inconvenience commuters in New York, New Jersey and other points in the mid-Atlantic and New England.

Because much of the East has had to deal with "persistent arctic air," the National Weather Service said, it will be tough to "completely scour its presence out."

On Monday morning, winter weather advisories covering 70 million people were in place for more than a dozen states and many more cities.

"I-95 in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey could become a real skating rink," CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said. "It will certainly be a major icing event from parts of Massachusetts to Philly, starting around afternoon rush hour."

The recent harsh weather -- most particularly the "bomb cyclone" -- unnerved, paralyzed and inconvenienced Americans in the eastern United States.

But through the rest of this week, temperatures should warm up.

"A widespread January thaw is expected for much of the country with above normal temperatures for mid-month," according to a tweet from the National Weather Service.

Mudslide threat in California

California, which for weeks battled massive fires as dry weather turned much of the state into a tinderbox, will see 2 to 4 inches of rain across the state as a winter storm descends on the West Coast. Up to a foot of snow and gusty winds are forecast for the Sierra Nevada.

In the wine country above San Francisco and much of Southern California, about 15 million people are under a flash flood watch.

While the rain is a welcome sight for many, it can spur dangerous mudslides and debris flows in burn-scarred areas, often with little warning.

The rain will be at its most intense Monday night and Tuesday morning, CNN meteorologists say.

Severe weather deaths

The weekend was brutally cold. CNN meteorologist Pedram Javaheri said 39 record low temperatures were set on Sunday morning across the eastern US.

"JFK set one of those records with a low of 5F (-15C) Sunday morning. This broke a record of 6F (-14.4C) from the infamous Polar Vortex event just three years ago," he said.

The National Weather Service said that Sunday's lowest temperature in the contiguous United States was -36F, which was recorded at Edwards, New York.

At least 22 died last week because of severe weather, officials said.

Six deaths were reported in Wisconsin, four in Texas, three in North Carolina, two in Virginia and one each in Ohio, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, North Dakota, New York and South Carolina.

More than 450 flights were canceled across the country Saturday and more than 680 Sunday, according to the tracking site As of early Monday it tallied about 160 cancellations.

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