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Storm's 1-2-3 punch: Frigid, snowy and icy

By Ed Payne, CNN
December 6, 2013 -- Updated 0114 GMT (0914 HKT)
  • NEW: For the first time in its 26-year history, a Dallas holiday parade is canceled
  • NEW: Some schools in Oklahoma, Arkansas and Tennessee will be closed Friday
  • An ice storm threatens the nation's midsection from Texas to Ohio
  • Temperatures in the Upper Midwest are below zero

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(CNN) -- Yes, it happens every year: the snow and the cold.

After all, it is winter, or least late pre-winter.

But how's this for a change in the weather?

Wednesday's official high in Dallas was 80. Thursday night brings freezing rain, sleet and a low in the 20s, according to the National Weather Service.

Yikes, talk about mood swings.

A particularly brutal batch of Arctic air has taken hold across the center of the country, bringing sub-zero temps to the north and sleet as far south as central Texas.

"The weather is bad and getting worse," said Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, who declared a state of emergency Thursday because of the storms.

Roads were slick and dangerous in some parts of the state, where officials reported three dozen storm-related injuries, including 16 falls. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol responded to more than 50 weather-related accidents.

The wintry mix is expected to continue through the weekend.

For the first time in its 26-year history, a downtown Dallas holiday parade scheduled for Saturday was canceled.

The Dallas Marathon, which typically attracts 25,000 runners, plus family and friends, is still expected to run on Sunday.

Oklahoma and Texas are not the only states affected. Tennessee has also declared a state of emergency.

"The most unsettling aspect about Arkansas' weather for most of us is its looming uncertainty," said Mike Beebe, the governor of that state.

"During severe weather season, we know when conditions are ripe for tornadoes, but never exactly where and when they could strike. In winter, that uncertainty takes a different form but can still create widespread anxiety," he said. "Often, only a few degrees above or below the freezing mark can make the difference between a cold rain, a blanket of snow, an ice storm or a mixture of all of the above."

Schools in various cities have canceled classes for Friday, including in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Oklahoma, Little Rock, Arkansas and Dallas, authorities said. Classes were also canceled for some counties in western Tennessee, including Shelby, Fayette and Dyer.

Area flights were so far running more or less on schedule. As of Thursday afternoon, there were just seven weather-related cancellations at Oklahoma City's Will Rogers World Airport, which expects more cancellations and delays early Friday.

About 160 departures scheduled for Thursday were canceled at Dallas/ Fort Worth International Airport, with more disruptions expected Friday.

Temperatures will be 10 to 30 degrees below average over the Plains into parts of the Mississippi Valley.

Winter advisories stretch from western New Mexico to southern Ohio. Major icing is forecast from the Southern Plains to the Ozarks and into the Ohio Valley.

Shuffle about 900 miles to the north of Dallas, and you'll find folks who'd love to see temperatures anywhere close to the 20s.

Through the weekend, the highest high in Minneapolis is forecast at 10 degrees. The lowest low: minus 10. If you throw in the wind chill, make it 20 below.

Hot Springs, North Dakota, is anything but. Wind chills there could hit a minus 26.

And there's snow too, just to add to the shivering misery across the upper Midwest

A winter storm warning covers eastern North Dakota and the northern half of Minnesota.

The Twin Cities area got up to 6 inches of snow on Wednesday. To the north in Two Harbors, Minnesota, residents were digging out from under 3 feet of powder.

Not great for driving but perfect for snowmobiling, a staple winter activity along the state's North Shore.

"It's been a while since we've had this much snow in December," Dixie Bar & Grill owner Deanna Larson told CNN affiliate KARE.

No snow means no customers, so 3 feet of the white stuff looks like a lot of green to her.

"Actually, January, February, March can be our largest months in business if we have the right snow."

They like the snow in Colorado, too, but the bitter cold is a different story.

"The thermometer in my truck said 7 degrees when I was driving over here, so it's cold," Boulder resident Mani Moniek said.

But as cold as that is, it got a lot colder just before midnight, setting a record low for the day at 13 below.

CNN's Joe Sutton contributed to this report.

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