LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — An ice storm across the southern Plains knocked out power to nearly a half-million homes and businesses and stranded travelers through the region, unexpectedly extending their holiday vacations.

The weather has also caused numerous accidents and nine traffic deaths and forced the Arkansas governor to shut down state government Wednesday.

In many towns, the only light early Wednesday came from exploding power transformers streaking blue and yellow lights across the sky.

About 214,000 Arkansas customers lost electricity early Wednesday, while 120,000 Oklahoma homes and businesses were dark late Tuesday. About 106,000 Texas customers were without electricity on Tuesday, as were another 50,000 in Louisiana.

A lull in the icy weather — however short-lived — was predicted for Thursday by the National Weather Service at North Little Rock.

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"It will be a brief break, because we have another batch of moisture coming Thursday night," said forecaster Nelson De Villiers.

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