Icy conditions to make for hazardous travel across central US through Thursday
By Faith Eherts, AccuWeather meteorologist
February 22, 2018, 2:15:27 PM EST
As cold air spills into the center of the nation behind a band of heavy rain, dangerously icy conditions are expected to develop.
Following the recent surge of unseasonable warmth in the Central and Midwest states, the cool and wet weather that followed felt especially wintry. The frigid air that follows will feel particularly biting, as well.
After nearing 70 degrees Fahrenheit in St. Louis on Tuesday, temperatures remained in the low 30s F on Wednesday. This caused the continuing rainfall to freeze where it landed, resulting in a coating of ice on raised surfaces and some roads and sidewalks.
"Freezing rain and sleet that broke out across the southern Plains on Wednesday morning will slice northeastward, eventually streaking eastward along the Interstate-80 corridor in Ohio and Pennsylvania into Thursday," said AccuWeather Meteorologist Kyle Elliott.
Four people were killed in a car accident on I-80 near York, Nebraska, on Tuesday, Feb. 20. Authorities said speed and slippery road conditions were factors in the crash, according to the Omaha World-Herald.
The ice storm will affect the metro areas of Oklahoma City, Wichita and Topeka, Kansas; Kansas City, Springfield and St. Louis, Missouri, and Des Moines and Davenport, Iowa.
Weatherford, Texas was just one of many towns in the central United States were ice covered elevated surfaces, including trees.
Areas of standing water remaining from recent downpours are also at risk of freezing, creating icy patches on paved surfaces.
"Large swaths of interstates 35, 40, 70 and 80 corridors will be impacted by the icing event, so treacherous roadways and slow travel can be expected for those driving to and from work," Elliott warned. Anyone planning long-distance travel should alter their route to avoid this part of the country if possible.
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Airline travel could be impacted as well, with deicing efforts delaying flights connecting through Kansas City, St. Louis and Oklahoma City.
"Most locations in the Plains and central United States impacted by the ice can expect a tenth to a quarter of an inch of ice accumulation, but areas hit the hardest may see upwards of a half an inch of ice," Elliott said.
"Fortunately, not enough ice is expected to result in significant or widespread power outages, but sporadic outages are still likely."
On a smaller scale, even mundane tasks could become hazardous. Slippery spots on driveways, sidewalks and parking lots will slow down morning tasks such as getting the mail, taking out the dog or going out to warm up the car.
As the soaking storm responsible for this weather moves into the Northeast, similar icy conditions are expected to developed in southern New York and northern Pennsylvania as well.
Snow and an icy mix will affect parts of central and northern New England into Thursday evening.
More mild conditions are poised to build back into both of these areas later in the week, bringing the threat of icy conditions to an end.
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