Storms precede season’s first freeze across South

Stephanie Rytilahti shovels the sidewalk with her 1-year-old son, Orion, and 3-year-old daughter, Sorrel, at right, outside their East Side home during a snowfall in Madison, Wis., Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019. (Amber Arnold/Wisconsin State Journal via AP)

DeKalb County Sheriff’s deputies and DeKalb firefighters and paramedics respond to a car in the ditch on Route 23 just south of Gurler Road as snow and wind continue to make driving hazardous in DeKalb Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019. A Halloween snow storm blanketed much of the area with ice and snow Wednesday night into Thursday. (Mark Busch/Daily Chronicle via AP)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Storms with heavy rain and strong winds raked across the central United States from the Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes on Thursday ahead of an arctic blast that forecasters said could bring near-record cold to the South.