Winter Storm Is Not Over Yet For Much Of The Country
Updated 8:05 p.m. ET
Heavy snowfall and frigid temperatures across the U.S. have kept winter storm warnings in effect from Washington state to the Great Lakes into northern New England and a large section of the South that includes Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas.
It's also left more than four million customers without power across the United States, including three million in Texas alone.
The record-breaking cold weather has claimed 16 lives so far, "including three people found dead after a tornado hit a seaside town in North Carolina and four family members who perished in a Houston-area house fire while using a fireplace to stay warm," the Associated Press reported. Others have died in car crashes caused by dangerous road conditions and from carbon monoxide poisoning.
"The major winter storm responsible for producing significant snow and ice accumulations in parts of the central and eastern U.S. the last couple days is making a beeline for eastern Canada, but not before it causes heavy snow and freezing rain in parts of the eastern Great Lakes and New England," NOAA's Weather Prediction Center said early Tuesday.
"[The] Arctic high pressure over the Heartland will ensure one more day of frigid temperatures east of the Rockies and west of the Appalachians. Numerous record cold maximum and minimum temperatures are expected today with the bulk of them occurring in the South Central U.S. where daily anomalies range between 35 to 45 degrees below normal," it added.
Here's a sampling of conditions around the country:
President Biden approved a state of emergency declaration for Texas following a request from Gov. Greg Abbott on Sunday, as the state began enduring some of the lowest temperatures in 30 years.
Making matters worse, continuing power outages that began on Monday have left more than 3 million customers in the dark and cold, with temperatures expected to plummet to as low as -5.
As NPR reported, that has prompted the governor to pursue an overhaul of the group that manages the state's power grid during the legislature's current session.
Meantime, however, officials have requested 60 generators from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to continue running heat into hospitals and nursing homes, according to the AP. The state has also opened 35 shelters to house more than 1,000 people, the agency said.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, issued a notice on its website advising customers that rolling blackouts had been "significantly extended due to the current emergency grid conditions and severe cold weather."
Northern Texas was likely experiencing its most severe cold snap so far this century, according to member station KERA in Dallas.
"I've seen snow. I've seen it get bad, [but] ... I don't think I've seen the temperatures like we're going to see this week," Trace Magee told the public radio station.
The NWS in Fort Worth issued a warning for residents in and around the Fort Worth area telling them to expect "a crippling amount of ice and sleet."
In Tennessee, three people have died due to the weather and the state's Department of Transportation says it's "working around the clock to clear roads, ice and snow caused multiple wrecks on interstates and countless cars have gotten stuck or slid off of side roads," News Channel 5 in Nashville reported.
Parts of Mississippi are experiencing unusually cold temperatures.
Throughout Oklahoma, the National Weather Service has warned of wind chill temperatures of -25 and snow accumulation of 4 to 8 inches through Wednesday.
By 5 p.m. local time Tuesday evening temperatures had dropped as low as 11 degrees, which was driving up natural gas demands and causing outages in some regions. The situation became so dire that Gov. Kevin Stitt reached out to President Biden by phone.
"I asked him to help Oklahomans with the substantial increase in energy bills that will likely be coming our way and he pledged his support," Stitt said in a tweet.
I just got off the phone with @POTUS about the effects of this winter storm.— Governor Kevin Stitt (@GovStitt) February 16, 2021
I asked him to help Oklahomans with the substantial increase in energy bills that will likely be coming our way and he pledged his support.
Thank you, Mr. President, for your time and your help. #okwx pic.twitter.com/krHiAwnyhw
During a call-in appearance on local news station KOCO 5, Stitt broke down the various sources of heat warming people's homes and businesses.
"We are not getting the wind, some of the stuff is frozen, we've got ice on the propellers," Stitt said. "There is zero solar right now. Thank goodness we have coal, 46% of our generation right now is coal. Natural gas, we have some pipes that have been freezing. So only 28% of electricity have been generated by natural gas. Hydro, that's about 6%, that's water."
Arkansas was expecting record low temperatures down to -13 in the northwestern Fayetteville area and snowfall from 6 to 10 inches in the central part of the state.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said in a Zoom call with media late Monday that the state could experience rolling blackouts due to electricity demands.
In Washington state, a forecast of warmer temperatures later in the week has prompted concern of flooding as the heavy snowfall melts. Washington State Patrol said they responded to 861 car collisions from Friday through Sunday.
Still, the rare winter storm, which dumped about a foot of snow over Seattle, did not deter a 90-year-old woman from walking six miles round-trip for her first coronavirus vaccine shot on Sunday morning, the Seattle Times reported.
In Chicago, where more than two feet of snow was already on the ground, up to 16 additional inches was added near Midway Airport by early Tuesday. The city's famous lake effect weather will move into northwest Indiana as the day wears on, according to CBS Channel 2. At least four buildings have collapsed in Chicago in recent days due to snow build-up that caused roofs to cave in, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Gov. JB Pritzker on Tuesday issued a disaster proclamation after the storm to open up resources.
"We're using all resources at our disposal to keep our communities safe amid this dangerous winter weather. And working with local governments as well as our federal partners to protect ratepayers from soaring utility bills," Pritzker said on Twitter.
He added: "I urge everyone to take this extreme weather seriously."
The northeast Indiana city of Fort Wayne was digging out Tuesday morning from what local media described as the largest recorded snowfall for Feb. 15.
A winter storm warning had been in effect for a band of northern Ohio that skirts Lake Erie. However, early Tuesday, the National Weather Service canceled warnings for the Upper Ohio Region. Even so, in Cleveland, sleet and freezing rain on the roads were complicating the morning commute Tuesday, ABC News 5 reports.
Another unbroken swath of warnings extends through the northern sections of Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.
In Albany, however, residents were expecting warmer temperatures would begin burning off the mix of freezing rain and snow that had fallen overnight.
In northern Vermont, a winter storm warning remains in effect until Tuesday evening, with up to 4 more inches of snow expected throughout the day.
Parts of Maine are preparing for snow totals of 6 to 10 inches overnight with areas in the northern portion of the state expecting another foot or more.
"We should see a couple of dry days before another winter storm Thursday night into Friday. That storm also will have heavy snow for the mountains and ice or snow for the coast," ABC affiliate, WMTW News cautioned viewers.
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