Storm expected to glaze Pennsylvania, New England in ice
Forecasters predicted that a major winter storm, which already shut off electricity to 350,000 households and businesses in Texas and the Ohio Valley, would leave Pennsylvania and New England covered in ice and snow on Friday.
Northern New York and New England were likely to see a foot of snow, however, the ice was what was threatening to disrupt the Northeast’s travel and electrical service before the storm hits, according to Rick Otto, National Weather Service meteorologist in College Park.
“It’s much easier to shovel snow than it is to shovel ice,” he stated.
Otto explained that even though the storm moves off to sea on Saturday night, the subfreezing temperatures will cause ice and snow to remain through the weekend.
Around 350,000 households and businesses in Texas lost power on Thursday. This was due to freezing rain and heavy snow that weighed down trees and power lines.
Tennessee, Arkansas and Texas had the most power outages, with the majority of them being in Tennessee. But the storm moved further south and northeast on Thursday, with more power disruptions due to icy and downed lines. Many schools and universities were closed in the region on Friday due to poor weather conditions.
Russell Weeden from Hale County Emergency Management told WBRC-TV that the tornado which struck rural Alabama Thursday afternoon left one dead, including a young woman who he found in rubble. Three others were seriously injured. According to him, the home sustained severe damage.
Even though tornadoes are rare in winter, they can still be caused by weather conditions. However scientists believe that as the planet gets warmer the atmospheric conditions required to produce a tornado will increase.
The southern Rockies received more snow than 50 centimeters (21 inches) and the areas in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan saw snowfall of over one foot.
FlightAware.com’s flight tracking site showed that over 9,000 U.S. flights had been cancelled on Thursday or Friday, in addition to more than 22,000 cancellations made Wednesday when the storm started.
Officials at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport mobilized for the second consecutive night to help travelers who were left behind by cancellations of flights. The airport offered blankets, baby formula and pillows to approximately 700 passengers who had been left homeless by their flight cancellations on Wednesday. It was also available to help with any customer that might require assistance at the airport Thursday night.
On Thursday, the Ohio Valley suffered a particularly severe impact with 211 cancellations at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. A spokeswoman for the airport told The Cincinnati Enquirer all flights had been canceled on Thursday, except those operated by American Airlines and Delta Air Lines.
The Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport cancelled nearly all of the Thursday afternoon and evening flight cancellations, as well as Friday flights, Natalie Chaudoin spokeswoman for the Louisville Courier-Journal. UPS has suspended operations from its Worldport hub at Louisville Airport on Thursday, which is a rare step.
According to poweroutage.us (which tracks utility reports), almost 300,000 households and businesses lost power in Tennessee and Ohio. As night fell Thursday, almost 150,000 Tennessee customers were without power, including about 135,000 in the Memphis area alone — or one-third of the customers of Memphis Light, Gas & Water.
Gale Carson spokeswoman for the utility. She said that power restoration can take several days. She said, “It won’t be an easy process.”
Following a 16-vehicle collision on a Memphis highway, six people were brought to the hospital. According to the Memphis Fire Department, two were taken to the hospital in critical condition after the Austin Peay Highway accident. The injuries to four other victims were non-critical.
Memphis’ ice weighed down trees, leading to fallen branches and limbs. Many authorities warned that some vehicles could slide off the slick streets.
In the meantime, nearly 70,000 people were without electricity in Ohio. Large numbers of those living in rural southeastern Ohio were also affected.
Texas’ return to subfreezing temperatures brought about increased anxiety almost a year following the February 2021 catastrophic freeze, which caused the grid to go down for several days and led hundreds of people’s deaths.
The Republican Governor of Texas is facing a fresh test for its grid. Greg Abbott stated that it is holding up well and was on the right track to be able to weather the storm. Texas was experiencing about 70,000 power outages on Thursday morning. This is far below the estimated 4 million reported for 2021.
Abbott said that Thursday’s power outages occurred due to strong winds, icy or downed transmission lines and not to grid problems. Local officials also stated this. More than half of those affected had their power restored by midnight.
It began on Tuesday. The storm made its way across the U.S. by Wednesday Groundhog Day. On that day Punxsutawney Phil, the famous groundhog Punxsutawney Phil foretold six more weeks. This storm followed a nor’easter that last weekend brought snowstorm conditions to much of the East Coast.