The Weather Channel said the storm was responsible for at least three deaths Tuesday, including a 36-year-old Arkansas man, Jeffery Dee Buck of Des Arc, who died in a single-vehicle crash when he lost control on an icy bridge and slammed into a stand of trees. The police report says freezing rain was falling when the crash occurred.
Slick roads also were suspected to be the cause of a fatal two-vehicle crash in Des Moines, Iowa, police said.
Blowing snow was a possible factor in a collision between a farm tractor and a pickup truck in Nebraska in which a 36-year-old Ashland man died, police said.
Calamity was averted in Springfield, Mo., when Donovan Hensley jumped into a pond Tuesday and helped two young women from their submerged car, which had slid off an icy road.
The Los Angeles Times reported winter storm warnings were posted for more than a dozen states, affecting more than a third of the nation's 315 million people.
Flightaware.com, a website tracking air traffic, said more than 3,700 flights were delayed Tuesday with more than 1,200 canceled by midday alone, the Times said.
The storm had knocked out power to more than 47,000 customers in Arkansas, the Weather Channel said.
School and college officials in Indiana tried to get ahead of the bad weather, sending students home early Tuesday afternoon.
WLS-TV, Chicago, said Windy City officials had deployed 200 snowplows and salt spreaders Tuesday night to get a jump on the 3-6 inches of snow expected. Across Illinois, 1,755 snowplows were ready to do battle with Mother Nature.
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence said more than 800 yellow plow trucks were poised to hit the roads, WLS-TV reported, with drivers working alternating 12-hour shifts.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, pondering a decision whether to close state offices Wednesday, went out into the storm to get a firsthand feel for what road crews go through trying to keep the highways open. He climbed into a state snowplow Tuesday afternoon and headed out onto Interstate 70 west of Topeka, the Weather Channel said.
Oklahomans fought through several inches of snow on their daily commute.
Thirty-eight West Virginia counties were under a flood watch with some areas warned to expect freezing rain.
Forecasters warned more than a foot of fresh snow could fall from the Plains to New England through Wednesday, NBC News reported.
"It's another one of these significant snowstorms, covering a large swath of the country," the Weather Channel's Kevin Roth said. "There may be more than 12 inches from central New York into New Hampshire and northern Massachusetts overnight Tuesday."
The storm was expected to bring widespread accumulations of 6 to 10 inches of snow in the Kansas City area, creating treacherous driving conditions, the Kansas City Star reported.
The National Weather Service in Kansas City posted on its Twitter page: "Snow doesn't look bad now, but by aftn [afternoon] commute, expect 4-7" & still snowing. Plz stay home today so road crews can operate."
The storm was blamed for two deaths Monday, one in western Kentucky and another in New York.
A record 8 inches of snow covered New York's Central Park Monday and the forecast through Wednesday calls for up to another 9 inches, CNN said.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio warned people to stay off the roads.
"Snow is coming down faster than we can plow it," de Blasio said. "We have a very aggressive plowing operation going on, but the snow is coming down very rapidly."
In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie declared a state of emergency.
The "winter storm is expected to produce heavy snow and travel hazards throughout the state," Christie said in a statement.