On Thursday, more than 200,000 homes lost power and businesses across the U.S. as snow and freezing rain weighed down trees and power lines. This was part of a winter storm which caused a tornado in Alabama and dumped snow in parts Midwest. It also brought rare, measurable snowfall to Texas.
Travellers across the country were also affected by the storm conditions. Airlines cancelled more than 6,000 flights on Thursday and Friday. Authorities at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport closed all runways Thursday morning, reporting more than 1,000 cancellations.
The most power outages due to icy or downed lines were in Tennessee, Arkansas and Texas. However, the path and intensity of the storm travelled further from the central U.S.A. into the South, Northeast and Northeast on Thursday.
Heavy snow was forecast from the southern Rockies to northern New England. Forecasters predicted heavy ice buildup from Texas to Pennsylvania.
Andrew Orrison, a National Weather Service meteorologist in College Park, Maryland said that “we have a lot on real estate covered by snow and sleet this morning.” “We have an extensive area of heavy snow and sleet occurring.”
Orrison stated that parts of New York, Ohio, and northern New England would see heavy snowfall as the storm moves east. Some areas could receive 12 to 18 inches (30-45 centimeters) of fresh snow through Friday.
The Storm Prediction Center stated that strong thunderstorms with damaging wind gusts or tornadoes could be possible on the warmer side of this storm Thursday in parts Mississippi and Alabama.
Russell Weeden, Hale County Emergency Management director, told WBRC-TV that a tornado struck a rural area on Thursday afternoon. He said one person was killed, a woman he found in rubble, and severely injured three more. He said that a home had been severely damaged.
Winter tornadoes are rare, but possible. Scientists have indicated that the atmospheric conditions necessary to create a tornado are increasing as the planet heats.
Victor Gensini, a Northern Illinois University meteorology professor, said that heavy snow brought by the storm to Midwestern states was not unusual. He said that people have forgotten what Midwestern winter was like over the past 50 years because of the warmer climate.
Gensini, 35, stated that the only incredible winters she has been able experience was through her parents’ 1970s photographs. This (storm) is a normal part of the game, not just for winters past but also for winters present.
In the southern Rockies, more than 20 inches (51 cmimeters) of snow were reported, while Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan saw more than a foot.
FlightAware.com, a flight tracking service, showed that more than 6000 flights were cancelled in the U.S. on Thursday and Friday. This was in addition to more than 2000 cancellations on Wednesday as the storm started.
In the Dallas-Fort Worth region, as well as parts of Oklahoma and Arkansas, there was freezing rain and snow early Thursday. According to the website Poweroutage.us which tracks utility reports, more than 200,000 homes were without power in Texas, Tennessee, and Arkansas.
Orrison stated, “Unfortunately we’re looking at enough ice accumulations to be looking at significant travel impact.”
Tennessee was the state with the most power outages reported at midday, especially in Memphis and West Tennessee.
Memphis’ ice weighed down trees, leading to fallen branches and limbs. The ice layer on the cars was thick and officials in many communities warned about cars sliding onto slick roads.
Texas’s return to subfreezing temperatures brought about increased anxiety almost a year after February 2021’s devastating freeze which shut down the state’s power grid, resulting in hundreds of deaths and one of the worst blackouts in American history.
The Republican Governor of Texas is facing a new test in the grid. Greg Abbott assured that the grid was holding strong and would have enough power to withstand the storm. Texas was experiencing about 70,000 outages on Thursday morning. This is far below the 4 million reported in 2021.
Abbott and local officials claimed that Thursday’s outages were caused by high winds, icy and downed transmission line and not grid failures.
Dallas is a city where snow seldom accumulates. The overnight snow-freezing rain mixture had turned Thursday afternoon into an icy slick, making roads dangerous.
South Bend, Indiana reported a record snowfall on Wednesday, with 11.2 inches (28.5 cmimeters). This surpasses the previous record of 8 in (20.3 centimeters), set in 1908 by Hannah Carpenter, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s Syracuse office.
She said that temperatures will drop once the storm passes. Friday’s highs will be in the teens, followed by lows of the single digits for northern Indiana.
Carpenter stated Thursday morning that “it’s certainly not going to melt real fast here.”
After the snowy weather, cold temperatures set in. Kansas residents woke up to wind chills as low as 15 degrees Celsius (26 degrees below zero). Schools and other services not required by the government were shut down in New Mexico on Thursday due to icy roads.
The storm moved across the U.S. from Tuesday to Wednesday’s Groundhog Day. It was also the day Punxsutawney Ph had predicted six more weeks worth of winter. This storm followed a nor’easter last week that brought blizzards to many parts on the East Coast.