U.S. Midwest, Northeast hit by Arctic blast

Several states in the U.S. Midwest and the Northeast were pummeled by an Arctic blast packing snow and ice from Monday night into Tuesday -- and it's only expected to get worse.

Four weather-related deaths have so far been reported: one in Kansas and three in Michigan.

Potentially crop-damaging freezes are expected in Texas and other Gulf states.

Nationwide, nearly 1,000 flights had been canceled due to snow and ice.

The wintry conditions badly startled passengers in Chicago on Monday, after a small American Airlines plane slid off the runway due to icy conditions. No one was injured.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) AA4125 PASSENGER SHAUN STEELE SAYING:

"I think everybody was just holding their breath 'cause we didn't know what was coming. A lot of people were bracing for it, grabbing the seats in front of us, especially the one that were going sideways toward the window."

Meteorologists say hundreds of cold-temperature records could be broken in the next 48 hours alone.