The Associated Press . A bus is encrusted in ice and snow at the back lot of a bowling alley in the Omaha, Neb., suburb of Elkhorn, where a fire was being put out, Thursday. A winter storm with bitter cold temperatures and blowing winds is traveling through the region.
DES MOINES, Iowa -- Snow was piled so high in Iowa that drivers couldn't see across intersections and a North Dakota snowblower repair shop was overwhelmed with business as heavy snow and wind chills as low as 52 below zero blasted much of the Midwest on Thursday.
Frigid weather also gripped the South, where a rare cold snap was expected to bring snow and ice Thursday to states from South Carolina to Louisiana. Forecasters said wind chills could drop to near zero at night in some areas.
In Bowbells, in northwestern North Dakota, the wind chill hit 52 below zero Thursday morning.
''The air freezes your nostrils, your eyes water and your chest burns from breathing -- and that's just going from the house to your vehicle,'' said Jane Tetrault, the Burke County deputy auditor.
Her vehicle started, but the tires were frozen.
''It was bump, bump, bump all the way to work with the flat spots on my tires,'' Tetrault said. ''It was a pretty rough ride.''
Other parts of the Midwest also had dangerously cold wind chills, including negative 40 in parts of South Dakota and minus 27 in northeast Nebraska, according to the National Weather Service. Equally disturbing chills were expected overnight Friday.
An additional 10 inches of snow was expected in Iowa, already buried by more than 2 feet of snow in December, while up to 9 inches could fall in southeast North Dakota that forecasters warned would create hazardous zero-visibility driving conditions. Wind gusts of 30 miles per hour were expected in Illinois -- along with a foot of snow -- while large drifts were anticipated in Nebraska and Iowa.
Joe Dietrich said he had to turn away dozens of customers this week from his snowblower repair shop in Bismarck, N.D.
''My building is only so big and I can only take so many,'' Dietrich said.
The weather hasn't let up since sweeping into the eastern U.S. earlier this week. Five straight days of double-digit subzero low temperatures, including negative 19, were recorded by the National Weather Service office in Chanhassen, Minn..
''It's brutally cold, definitely brutal,'' meteorologist Tony Zaleski said.
At least 15 deaths this year have been blamed on the cold and icy, snow-covered roads. An 88-year-old woman died of hypothermia in her unheated Chicago home, an Alzheimer's sufferer died after wandering into his yard in Nashville, Tenn., and a homeless man was found dead in a tent in South Carolina, authorities said. Kansas City police said a man involved in a multi-car pileup Wednesday died after jumping a barrier wall in the dark, apparently to avoid sliding cars, and falling about 80 feet.