Doyle Rice and Doug Stanglin, USA TODAY
Howling winter winds bore down on the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states Friday, bringing more holiday flight delays as a heavy snowstorm that slammed the nation's midsection rolled eastward.
At least eight storm-related traffic deaths were reported in Utah, Kansas, Iowa, Wisconsin and Nebraska.
Madison, Wis., recorded the highest snowfall total from the storm so far, with 20 inches reported. The highest wind gust was 100 mph near Gatlinburg, Tenn., according to weather service data.
The interior northeast was bracing for snow and a wintry mix. High winds were lashing big cities through the Mid-Atlantic, AccuWeather meteorologist Meghan Evans reported. Strong onshore winds were expected to bring localized coastal flooding.
"The heaviest additional snowfall amounts are forecast across the central Appalachians, where 6 to 10 inches are possible, and in the lake-effect areas east of Lakes Erie and Ontario where a foot or more will be possible in some areas," according to an online weather service forecast.
Meanwhile, low temperatures Friday night will drop into the single digits or slightly below zero in the north-central U.S. The cold air will also spill down the East Coast all the way to central Florida, where temperatures could dip below freezing Friday night.
A high-wind warning was issued for New York City and Long Island, including gusts of up to 60 mph. Winter storm warnings and advisories were also issued for parts of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Virginia, where snow was forecast throughout the day.
Strong winds were blamed for lingering morning airport delays in the East; there were three-hour waits at one point at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey and La Guardia Airport in New York.
The travel disruptions came one day after airlines canceled more than 1,400 flights across the Midwest. Chicago was particularly hard hit on Thursday with more than 490 arrivals and departures canceled at Chicago O'Hare, according to FlightAware.com, and 149 across town at Chicago Midway.
While the storm had largely moved on from the Midwest by Friday morning, hard-hit areas from Nebraska to Michigan were still battling road closings from heavy snow.
The closing included a 120-mile stretch of Interstate 35 from Ames, Iowa, through Albert Lea, Minn.
In Utah, a woman died trying to walk for help after her car became stuck in the blizzard.
At least 1,000 accidents have been reported. At least 25 vehicles slammed into each other on Interstate 35 about 60 miles north of Des Moines. Semitrailers and passengers collided in a chain-reaction by drivers blinded by driven snow.
Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin activated National Guard troops to help rescue stranded drivers.
"It's just awful out there," Capt. Mike Winter of the Iowa State Patrol said. "People need to just stay home."
In the cold and chaos, acts of kindness continued in neighborhoods and along roadways.
In the Easter Lake area of southeast Des Moines, Bob Spencer, 80, shoveled a path from the entryway of Jessica Sheets' condo unit to garages for her and other neighbors.
"Such a wonderful man," Sheets said. "Myself and another neighbor are single mothers and he's always taking care of us. We are blessed to have him as our neighbor."
One African immigrant found himself stuck in a ditch on his way home from a night shift at a Wal-Mart. A neighbor helped Adil Nabil of Des Moines clear the driveway to his apartment, but Nabil's car only made it halfway up the driveway.
"My tires just keep spinning," said Nabil, who recently moved to Des Moines from Morocco. "America gets a lot of snow ... it's not like my country."
Although the Plains and Midwest could do without the travel headaches, precipitation should be welcome.
More than 93% of the high Plains region and 54% of the Midwest are enduring drought conditions, according to Thursday's U.S. Drought Monitor, a federal website that tracks drought.
In the West, the leading edge of a powerful storm system arrived in Washington, Oregon and Northern California. Rain is expected across Northern California from late Thursday through the weekend. Heavy snow is possible in the Sierra Nevada range as the system moves east.
Four to seven feet of snow is forecast to fall above 7,000 feet, prompting the U.S. Forest Service to issue an avalanche warning for Mount Shasta.
Contributing: Ben Mutzabaugh, USA TODAY; Michael Winter, USA TODAY; the Associated Press; Jens Krogstad, The Des Moines Register