TODAY   |  December 05, 2013

30 million Americans affected by winter weather

Temperatures have plunged 40 degrees in parts of the country as winter weather drops snow, ice and rain. NBC’s Dylan Dreyer reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> while we had good weather here, we are talking about weather as our top story. we have a potent powerful storm we followed all week long. nbc's dillan dwyer has more. you are in arkansas this morning?

>> reporter: i am. we certainly are, matt. we are looking at programs up to a million people affected by this potentially dangerous and potentially deadly ice storm . once the freezing ice storms, it is going to coat everything in its path. that includes the roads and the power lines . that could halt travel and knock out power for millions of people.

>> that is a threat that could concern several states in this storm's path. too much, too soon. two weeks until winter and much of the nation is already dealing with bitter cold and mounds of snow. parts of colorado already hit with up to 3-feet.

>> you have to let me know . i can't see out that right side.

>> reporter: leading to whiteout conditions even for the guy driving the plow.

>> it gets a little stressful sometimes.

>> reporter: in minnesota, a news crew out looking for a story became the story.

>> we're going to hit, we're going to hit!

>> reporter: no one was seriously hurt, but a reminder to take care driving your car. that's if your car starts at all in the freezing cold. but it didn't stop die hard fans of oklahoma state football from camping out to score tickets to staet saturday's game.

>> sleeping bags, blankets. about three pairs of socks per person.

>> reporter: wind machines being used in california overnight to keep the frost off the orange crop.

>> any amount of crop we can save is going to really help us towards making our money, so we're going to be in trouble if we lose it.

>> reporter: "today" show viewers using social media to share how they are coping with this early blast. this storm spreading misery as it sweeps across the country. now, for anyone traveling during this storm, you want to actually keep an eye on the thermometer in your car. freezing rain , it looks, it sounds and it falls like regular rain but it freezes on contact with the coldest surfaces. so once you see that thermometer inching closer to 32 degrees, your best bet is to just stay off the roads and, al, this is a concern for millions of people as this storm stretches over such a huge part of the country.

>> that's right, dillon, we are talking 52 million people can be affected by this. let's show you the watches and warnings. this is where we are worried about right here, stretching from kentucky all the way into texas. this is an ice storm warning . i mean, this is really bad stuff, folks. this is the areas in pink, that's the ice, the areas of light blue . that's the snow. and from little rock , dallas on into cincinnati through friday, we're talking about ice. look at this. this is what i am most concerned about. right in here. we're talking about anywhere from a half an inch to an inch of ice. a quarter of an inch of ice your windshield coated. the bridges get tricky. light ice on the trees. according to a half inch, tree limbs sag, roads are icy. power outages a problem. a half an inch or more, it becomes crippleing. this is what we will be talking about from texas to cincinnati. roads impassable. power out annuals that will last for days and guys, i'm telling you, the problem with this is once they get this ice in, then the temperatures drop. they will stay below. they are getting a second hit of this coming into friday and saturday. so this could be potentially crippleing.

>> a word to everybody down