(Adds deaths, weather forecasts)
By Karen Brooks
AUSTIN, Texas, Dec 6 (Reuters) - Snow, sleet, and freezing rain are forecast to hit the eastern United States this weekend, and temperatures will stay below zero in the west, the National Weather Service said, after a deadly winter storm slammed the nation’s midsection on Friday.
A layer of ice and sleet up to three inches thick is expected to stay on roads in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex through Sunday, forecasters said, after what some say is the worst winter weather to hit the United States in years.
On Friday, ice snarled travel and knocked out power for hundreds of thousands of people.
The freeze stretched from the Texas-Mexico border northeast to the Ohio Valley, with the most severe conditions near Dallas, punching through Arkansas and western Kentucky, according to forecasters at AccuWeather.com.
Residents of large cities and small towns were without power as broad outages were reported through Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana, local utilities said.
“The lingering frigid air will not only lay the path for more ice this weekend, but will also delay recovery in communities dealing with widespread power outages and thus no heat,” AccuWeather.com meteorologist Meghan Evans said in an email.
At the height of the storm, some 267,000 outages were reported in the Dallas-Fort Worth area alone, according to utility provider Oncor, but that number was down to about 200,000 late on Friday.
Nearly 5,000 customers in Tennessee and roughly 30,000 in Arkansas were without power, energy companies said on Friday.
More than 1,900 flights were canceled on Friday, according to online flight trackers.
First-time air traveler Madison Cunningham, 18, was stranded for more than 12 hours in the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport when ice prevented her flight home to Indianapolis.
“I‘m never going to fly again,” said Cunningham. “I’ll take the train next time.”
The Texas airport said airlines canceled more than 750 departures scheduled for Friday, leaving some 4,000 passengers to spend the night sleeping on cots.
The travel troubles also delayed commerce, as United Parcel Service, the nation’s largest package delivery company, said deliveries have been disrupted in Arkansas, Missouri, New Mexico and the panhandle portion of Texas on Friday.
Spokeswoman Susan Rosenberg said UPS may try to reroute some of its delivery network, using more rail transport.
Among the several deaths attributed to the weather was the mayor of Granby, Missouri. His vehicle veered off a snowy road and struck a tree on Thursday, officials said.
Ronald Arnall, 64, was killed on a state highway in southern Missouri, where up to eight inches of snow fell through early Friday. More snow was expected.
In the San Francisco Bay area, Santa Clara County officials said four homeless men died this week of hypothermia.
In Arkansas, a man died when a tree fell onto his camper in Pope County, 80 miles west of Little Rock, late on Thursday.
And in Texas, a man died when his car hit an 18-wheeler truck that was partially blocking a road near Dallas, police said. They attributed the crash to icy conditions.
School closures, travel hassles and holiday event cancellations from Texas to Wisconsin piled up.
Officials in Wausau, Wisconsin, canceled the city’s holiday parade, scheduled for Friday, as the wind chill was expected to hit 25 degrees below zero.
Nashville’s biggest night of holiday celebration was put on ice, literally, with the city’s Christmas Parade canceled along with the city’s Christmas tree lighting ceremony.
Instead of a fanfare at dusk, the mayor will simply switch on the lights on its 30-foot tree around 4:30 p.m. (2230 GMT).
The conditions also forced St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to cancel the Memphis Marathon on Saturday.
A planned marathon in Dallas is also a nonstarter, and an auction of Hollywood memorabilia, including ‘70s icon Farrah Fawcett’s famous red swimsuit, planned for Friday, was postponed until next Thursday.
In Dallas, where forecasters are predicting up to a three-inch buildup of sleet, the Dallas Area Rapid Transit light rail was forced to shut down because of ice on the tracks. (Additional reporting by Scott DiSavino, Nivedita Bhattacharjee in Chicago; Phil Wahba in Dallas; Kevin Murphy in Kansas City, Missouri; Brendan O‘Brien in Madison, Wisconsin; Tim Ghianni in Nashville; Suzi Parker in Little Rock, Arkansas; Lisa Maria Garza and Marice Richter in Dallas and Laila Kearney in San Francisco; Editing by Eric M. Johnson, Colleen Jenkins, Lisa Von Ahn and Gunna Dickson; Editing by Louise Ireland)