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Winter Weather: Southern Plains, South Hit by Sleet, Freezing Rain, Snow

Elisha Fieldstadt and Alexander Smith

Winter storm alerts stretched 2,000 miles from California to North Carolina early Monday, as a mix of snow, freezing rain and sleet canceled more than 1,000 flights and closed hundreds of schools.

The storm moved into the Southern Plains and the South on Sunday, and by 5 a.m. Monday parts of Texas, New Mexico, Kansas and Oklahoma were getting hit. The Texas Panhandle was among the areas forecast to be hardest hit.

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More than 1,000 flights were canceled at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, and in preparation for a messy day, almost 700 schools were canceled or had class delayed across northern Texas, according to NBC Dallas Fort-Worth.

Parts of Tennessee faced a flood advisory as temperatures rose and melted the snow and ice that persisted there throughout the week. The dangerous weather has claimed 21 lives in the state since Monday, and more than 44,000 customers were without electricity on Sunday after ice buildup toppled power lines, according to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency.

The southern Plains braced for what called a "widespread wintry mess." Even usually balmy mid-Texas would be under a winter storm warning for 24 hours starting at 6 p.m. Sunday, according to the National Weather Service. Many parts of the state could see up to an inch of sleet, and temperatures wouldn't rise above freezing on Monday, making for "treacherous" road conditions, the National Weather Service warned.

Meanwhile, parts of southern Utah and Colorado's Rockies could expect up to 2 feet of snow.

Heavy rain also put communities in Southern California under threat of flash flooding, NBC Los Angeles reported. The risk of "very heavy showers" was set to continue until midday Monday local time (3 p.m. ET), according to the National Weather Service.