Icy storm paralyzes central U.S., pummels nation’s capital

By Elizabeth Barber BOSTON (Reuters) – Record-breaking cold gripped the eastern United States while an icy winter storm crippled the nation’s central states and then plowed into the mid-Atlantic, dumping snow and forcing federal offices in Washington, D.C. to close on Tuesday. Heavy snowfall and ice moving eastward from the Southern Plains pounded Missouri, Arkansas, southern Illinois, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio, the National Weather Service said. With the storm headed east and sleet and freezing rain expected to also take a swipe at the South, states of emergency were declared in North Carolina, Virginia, Mississippi, Georgia, Kentucky, as well as in Washington, D.C. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management announced on its web site that federal offices are closed in D.C. Fort Knox, a U.S. Army post south of Louisville, Kentucky, also will be closed on Tuesday due to weather and road conditions, it said on its website.