Freezing rain has creeping across Tennessee on its way to the mid-Atlantic as the stunning cold, snow and ice that gripped Texas and the west on Saturday makes its advance eastward.
The storm is expected to turn Virginia and Pennsylvania into an icy mess today and scrabble north into New York and southern New England tonight.
Roads will be perilous in many places by this evening and forecasters warned travelers and holiday shoppers to stay home.
"This is a dangerous storm," Kevin Witt, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Virginia, told the New York Times. "The roads may just look wet, but you could have a sheet of ice there. It's best to stay home."
Washington, D.C. may be the slickest of the cities along the I-95 corridor, according to AccuWeather.com — it's the furthest west of those cities and likely the slowest to warm up. As the system blows north later today, many inland areas will warm slightly and the wintery mix will change to just plain rain.
Air travel in the mid-Atlantic is likely to be riddled with delays later today. Adding to travel misery, snow forecast for the Midwest threatens to muck up flight schedules in Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis and Kansas City.
Northern Texas and Arkansas are still bitter cold and coated with ice this morning, and tens of thousands of homes are without power — down from a quarter-million left in the dark after the height of the storm on Friday.
No precipitation is forecast, but Dallas and other areas won't see substantial melting until midweek at the soonest, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Highs will linger in the low 30s from northern Texas to Arkansas — about 20 degrees below normal — through Tuesday, says AccuWeather.com.
"The forecast, I guess, is really just continued cold," National Weather Service meteorologist Jennifer Dunn told the Morning News.
Two days out from the storm, roads resemble ice rinks and highways north and west of Dallas are strewn with abandoned cars, KPAX in Missoula, Mont. reports. Accidents late Saturday closed interstates in Fort Worth. In suburban Denton County night, two 18-wheelers got stuck on an icy hill Friday night, jamming traffic until Saturday afternoon. Residents took food and blankets to cars on the road and many left their vehicles to wait inside churches.
One driver died after losing control and sliding off an icy bridge into nearby Lewisville Lake.
Bad as the storm is in the U.S., it pales in comparison to northern Europe's weekend weather. England is cleaning up after gale-strength winds up to 100 mph clobbered the east coast. It was the worst storm surge in the region in more than half a century and left two dead, the BBC reported.
Seven houses fell off a cliff and into the North Sea and a lifeboat station was washed away in Hemsby, Norfolk. Hundreds of grey seals were killed in the surge along the Norfolk coast.
The storm then barreled onto the continent with hurricane-force winds, killing at least seven people. The storm flooded parts of Hamburg, left thousands of homes without power and cancelled dozens of flights at Berlin and Copenhagen airports
A commuter train crash that killed four passengers in New York is raising questions about whether a high-tech safety system could have prevented the derailment.
The train was traveling 82 miles an hour on Dec. 1 as it went into a curve where the speed limit is 30. The safety system, called positive train control, or PTC, can automatically slow down a train that is going too fast.
But most trains don't have it.
"For more than 20 years, the [National Transportation Safety Board] has recommended the implementation of PTC technology," board member Earl Weener told reporters on Tuesday. "PTC is proven technology that can prevent train-to-train collisions, overspeed derailments and incursions into work zones. Since this is a derailment involving a high-speed train, it's possible that PTC could have prevented it."
While New York's Metro-North Railroad doesn't have the safety system in place, the Federal Railroad Administration on Friday ordered it to overhaul its signal system and temporarily put an extra worker in the driver's cab on some routes that have major speed changes, like the one involved in the Dec. 1 derailment.
Across the country, all railroads are supposed to install and implement the high-tech positive train control systems by the end of 2015. Congress mandated the change shortly after the 2008 crash of a Los Angeles Metrolink commuter train that killed 25 people.
But rail industry experts say it's proving to be a very difficult task.
"This is a massive systems integration problem," says Chris Barkan, executive director of the Rail, Transportation and Engineering Center at the University of Illinois. "We're talking 60,000 miles of track that have to be fitted with complicated new hardware and software. There's something like 20,000 locomotives that will need the onboard equipment."
That includes Wi-Fi, GPS, radio and other technologies. And the railroads also need to install 20,000 new cell signaling towers along those 60,000 miles of track. Then there's what experts call the "interoperability" of the railroads' positive train control systems.
"All the railroads' PTC systems — passenger rail, freight rail, small and regional railroads — all of their PTC systems must be able to talk to each other," says Holly Arthur of the Association of American Railroads.
The cost of implementing PTC nationwide is estimated to be more than $13 billion. The commercial freight railroads can afford their share, but what about regional commuter rail agencies?
"This is an unfunded mandate," says Michael Gillis, a spokesman for Metra, Chicago's commuter train agency.
One of its trains derailed in 2005, killing two passengers — another crash the NTSB says might have been prevented by PTC. Metra's cost for implementing PTC, which is partially done, will be $235 million. But because Congress provided no new funding for the system, Gillis says, the railroads have to pay for the system with "conventional capital funding sources." For Metra, that's the money that also goes to track improvements, bridge repairs and other safety needs.
So the rail industry has been asking Congress to push back its PTC implementation deadline by three years, to 2018, and to offer funding for it.
An August report from the Government Accountability Office says only a few passenger and freight railroads will be ready by 2015. But after the deadly crash in New York, few in Congress may be willing to vote for a delay.
Goli Taraghi writes about life in Iran — about love, loss, alienation and exile. She is particularly equipped to the task, as her own exile from the country began in 1980 at the outset of the Iranian Revolution.
In 1979, she was a professor living in Tehran with her two young children, and initially supported the movement.
"Of course the turmoil started, and then the executions, and the university was closed, and I thought the best thing is to go abroad and stay just one year," says Taraghi.
Little did she know, she would continue living in her adopted city of Paris for the next 34 years.
During Taraghi's period of exile, however, she traveled back to Iran many times, often to gather inspiration for her writing — short stories that have made her one of Iran's most successful and celebrated authors.
She spoke with NPR's Arun Rath about her latest collection of short stories, The Pomegranate Lady and Her Sons, which debuted in the United States earlier this year.
On drawing inspiration from her home country
Usually, I go to Iran to find a story to write about. Because Iran is so absurd, so contradictory, whenever I go I find something to write about and I have a character... to enter into a new story. The Pomegranate Lady is one of them.
I met her at the airport and she was asking everybody, "Where is Sweden? Where is Sweden?" Because, she said, "My son sent me a ticket and said ... 'Come. Come.' So I'm here with the ticket, and I don't know where or how to go!"
Most of the characters, you know, are tragic and comic. For example, in the story "The Gentleman Thief" ... after the revolution, a new category of thieves appeared. They used to be, for example, an employee of a bank or in the Ministry of Justice or something, but they're out of job and they have no money. So they absolutely need some money.
And they very, very ... apologize for taking something from your house and they promise that they will bring it back. The whole thing goes on in an absurd way.
On themes of movement and exile in her work
I have one story which is not included in this collection, but I hope one day also will be included. It's called, "The Flying Mothers." A lot of Iranian mothers are the victims, the real victims, of the revolution because children — they had to leave. And they couldn't take the grandmothers or mothers with them.
This woman in this story, she has sold her house and given the money to her children so she has no house of her own. And when she comes to Paris to see her son, it's difficult for the son because the apartment is small and he's married and has two children.
So he sends her, after a while, to her daughter in London. The daughter is married to an English man so they cannot keep her long enough, so they send her to Canada, and the only house or home that really belongs to her is her seat on the airline — nobody can take it away from her.
On censorship of her work in Iran
In Iran, it's a very strange game of cat and mouse. The problem is that when I want to submit a book, I automatically do the auto-censoring. ... Sexism is impossible, religion is impossible, politics is impossible.
A second censorship is by the publisher. He takes this sentence, 'no-no-no-no-no.' Finally it goes to the Ministry of the Shah and the stupid man sitting there ... he cuts a paragraph, he cuts a sentence, he cuts a page. Mutilated story finally is published, and I'm happy.
But often what happens then is the book sells well, people are excited about it, and they say, 'What is in it? Maybe we didn't see.' And then they confiscate a book from the bookshops.
In Persian, everything is mingled with poetry. We have a poem which says that if God by his wisdom closes a door, with his grace he opens another door. Iranians are always waiting for this 'another door.' No door is definitely closed.
The online magazine Ozy covers people, places and trends on the horizon. Co-founder Carlos Watson joins All Things Considered regularly to tell us about the site's latest discoveries.
This week, Watson tells host Arun Rath about about a rising star in soccer who could turn things around for England in the World Cup, and a Bahraini woman who calls herself an "accidental activist." He also shares a clip from an Ozy interview with President Bill Clinton regarding Nelson Mandela's legacy.
Today college football saw another upset, when Oklahoma beat Oklahoma State to kill their Big 12 championship and BCS bowl game hope.
The AP has the details of the game. But something just as dramatic happened off the field: Stillwater, Okla., where the game was played, and a large section of the state stretching south past Oklahoma City were shaken by a rare 4.5 magnitude earthquake.
Of course, the typical jokes were thrown around: Weatherstorm.net tweeted the earthquake had caused some real damage:
But SB Nation pointed out something interesting: A small quake hit the same location during a college football game two years ago. Here's what ESPN's coverage looked like during that event:
Correction at 6:17 p.m. ET. About That Video:
Our eagle-eye commenters pointed out that the ESPN video in this post is from a 2011 game, not from the game today as we had said. We've tweaked the language to reflect that and thanks to "ThatGuyCJ" and "harry guss" for catching our mistake.