Freezing weather has gripped parts of the United States, with record-breaking low temperatures being blamed for at least 12 deaths across the country, The Chicago Tribune reported.

Emergency or warming centres have been opened in the usually balmy Deep South, including Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal on Tuesday declared a state of emergency in 28 counties, Reuters reported. “We have a group of patients who are coming in off the street who are looking to escape the cold — we have dozens and dozens of those every day,” Dr Brooks Moore of Grady Health System in Atlanta told The Chicago Tribune.

Coastal locations from Georgia to Maine are expected to be hit by a powerful storm that will batter parts of New England, The Washington Post reported. Weather forecasters are calling the storm “bomb cyclone” as it is predicted to fall very fast.

The Weather Service has predicted four to seven inches of snow in Boston along with strong winds that can bring down tree branches. Temperatures in Mid-Atlantic and North East are forecast to be 20 to 40 degrees below normal.