NEWS

Massive winter storm dumps ice, freezing rain and up to 18 inches of snow across US

More than 100 million people were under some form of winter weather alert Thursday.

Over 3,800 flights were canceled and thousands of customers were already without power early Thursday.

Parts of the Midwest and Northeast could see up to 18 inches of snow. Cities at risk included Indianapolis, St. Louis, Cleveland, Rochester, Burlington and Augusta.

A massive winter storm brought freezing rain and record-breaking snow Thursday creating dangerous conditions as it trekked from the South through the Northeast.

Schools were closed, flights canceled and power was knocked out in some areas as more than 100 million people were under some form of a winter weather alert, according to the National Weather Service.

From the Rockies to the Northeast, the storm was expected to bring snow, sleet and freezing rain to millions through Friday evening. Parts of the Midwest and Northeast could see up to 18 inches of snow while up to an inch of ice was possible in isolated areas around Kentucky and Tennessee, according to Weather Service forecasts.

More than 3,800 flights were canceled Thursday, according to the tracker Flightaware.com. More than 60,000 customers in Texas and Arkansas had already lost power, according to Poweroutage.us.

“It is a slow-moving storm,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Pydynowski told USA TODAY. “Such a long duration storm not only makes travel difficult over a long period of time, but it also allows the freezing rain to accumulate up to around 1 inch in some areas which can cause power outages.”

Texas gets ice and snow; Oklahoma City breaks Groundhog Day snow record

In Dallas, up to a quarter of an inch of ice and 3 inches of sleet and snow were expected, the Weather Service said. Much of northern Texas to the border with Oklahoma could see between one to three inches of snow, forecasts showed.

Further south, Austin could see up to a quarter inch of ice accumulation, while San Antonio could get up to a tenth of an inch.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott urged Texans to stay off the roads and said the state’s power system would be able to handle the freeze. Last year, prolonged winter weather knocked out electricity for millions.

Meanwhile, Oklahoma City broke its Groundhog Day snowfall record Wednesday with 3 inches of snow, according to Accuweather.

The Weather Service office in Norman, Oklahoma, showed an additional 3 inches of snow forecast for Oklahoma City on Thursday, with surrounding regions possibly getting up to 4 to 6 inches.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt declared a state of emergency Tuesday ahead of the winter weather.

“Significant icing is expected” for much of central Kentucky, added the forecast office in Louisville, with half an inch and possibly higher amounts in some areas.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear declared a state of emergency Wednesday, and many schools in the state canceled classes or announced plans for remote learning.

“If everything holds right now, this is the real deal,” Beshear said Wednesday. “It is dangerous. People need to be prepared, especially to stay off the roads tomorrow and potentially be ready to deal with this emergency for the next several days.”

Ice began accumulating Thursday in parts of West Tennessee including Memphis, causing power outages and dangerous road conditions during the morning commute. Memphis could see between half an inch to three quarters of an inch of ice by the time the storm winds down on Friday.

In Middle Tennessee, flooding and freezing rain were expected to be “dual hazards,” according to the Nashville Weather Service office.

“In areas that see over a quarter inch of ice, that is when concerns start to grow about power outages as the weight of the ice weighs down power lines and tree limbs,” Pydynowski, with AccuWeather, said.

Heavy snow in Midwest and Northeast

In the Midwest and Northeast, the cities that could see half a foot to more than a foot of snow included Indianapolis; St. Louis; Cleveland; Rochester, New York; Burlington, Vermont; and Augusta, Maine.

The storm on Wednesday brought more than a foot of snow to some areas in Illinois and Missouri. In central Missouri, officials shut down part of Interstate 70. Illinois Gov. J. B. Pritzker and Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Tuesday both declared a state of emergency.

Swaths of Ohio and central Indiana could see anywhere from 3 to 12 inches of snow while northern Indiana could expect up to 18 inches, local Weather Service offices forecast. The snowfall led to several car crashes throughout central Indiana on Thursday morning.

Pittsburgh was forecast to get between 1 to 2 inches, while other areas in northwestern Pennsylvania could see up to 8 inches, according to the Weather Service office there.

In the northern parts of New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, up to 18 inches were forecast, according to local Weather Service offices.

“It’s not going to be a heavy snow event with high snowfall rates,” Weather Service Meteorologist David Thomas said of the storm in western New York. “This is a prolonged, gentle snow that will be more manageable, though roads will be snow-covered.”

In warmer sections of the storm, from the Southern Plains to the Northeast, heavy rains were also expected, which could bring the risk of some thunderstorms and flash flooding, the Weather Service said.

“Thunderstorms capable of damaging wind gusts and a few tornadoes are possible today into this evening in parts of the Deep South,” the Storm Prediction Center said. Parts of Alabama and Mississippi were in the risk zone for severe weather Thursday.

Airlines canceled nearly 3,000 U.S. flights on Wednesday, the tracking service FlightAware.com showed.

The winter conditions coincided with groundhog Punxsutawney Phil predicting six more weeks of winter and came after a nor’easter pummeled the East Coast with blizzard conditions.

Source: USA Today

Image Source: Shutterstock

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