The storm triggered multivehicle pileups and other traffic nightmares across in the Midwest. In Ohio, nursing student Carrie Winger saw the aftermath of a fatal wreck in Cincinnati on Wednesday, which left one woman dead. She said she shared a photo of the crash site with CNN iReport to warn other drivers to slow down.
"We saw folks driving too fast and too close repeatedly the entire trip today," Winger said. "As soon as we passed this, people were speeding again. They apparently did not realize they had just passed a very immediate and very close encounter of a fatality. It could have been them."
Even drivers in the Northeast had a tough time navigating the icy conditions. Jim DeMarino said a normally four-hour drive from Pittsburgh to northern Virginia took eight hours Wednesday, the day after Christmas.
DeMarino, who lives in Alexandria, Virginia, submitted photos of what he called a "tricky drive" along highways that were "scattered with abandoned, crashed and disabled vehicles."
Tornadoes in Alabama, Mississippi
The same weather system that dumped heavy snow in the Midwest and Northeast spawned as many as 30 tornadoes on Christmas -- some with wind speeds over 100 mph -- across the Southeast.
Several of Tuesday's powerful twisters struck Alabama. In Mobile County, David Saraceno spotted something ominous as he sped down Interstate 165 on Tuesday. He was traveling with his wife and 1-year-old daughter to visit family when he saw a tornado on the side of the road. His wife videotaped it.
"It looked like it was about two miles away from us," Saraceno said. "I put the pedal to the floor to try and get out of harm's way, but it seemed to be getting closer and closer."
Panicked, Saraceno got off the interstate near the town of Chickasaw, drove in a different direction and then turned around to go home.
"We drove right back into a path of destruction," he said. "It appeared that the tornado turned and came over the interstate about three minutes away from where we would have been if I did not get off the interstate. We saw a roof that must have blown off a house. Cars were pulled to the side of the road. There was a lady whose windows were shattered. It was too close for comfort."
Winter wonderland in Dallas
For others, the winter storm system brought a rare white Christmas.
In Dallas, some residents had to change from short sleeves to winter coats Tuesday, as temperatures plummeted from the 60s to the low 20s in one day.
"We knew it was going to be a white Christmas in Dallas this year as per the weather advisory, but were not aware it will turn out to be so beautiful and freezing cold," Shail Bhatt said.
It's not often that Dallas gets more snow than Chicago, but that's what happened this week. "Sometimes we wear shorts on Christmas in Texas," said Chris Purcell, who told CNN there's still plenty of snow on the ground. "We built a snowman and went (sledding) and had a snowball fight ... all the basics."