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Bitterly Cold Air Lingers in Wake of Power-Cutting Ice Storm

By by Meghan Evans, Meteorologist
December 09, 2013, 2:16:14 AM EST

Cold air will stay put after an ice storm cut power to hundreds of thousands of customers from Texas to Tennessee. The lingering frigid air will not only lay the path for more icing this weekend but will also delay recovery in communities dealing with widespread power outages and thus no heat.

More than half an inch of ice has weighed down trees and power lines over a widespread swath from northern Texas to Arkansas and northwestern Tennessee Thursday into Friday. Some communities near Dallas, Texas, have received as much as 3 inches of sleet.


"One cubic foot of ice weighs about 62 pounds," Senior Vice President of AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions Mike Smith said. "When you add 10- to 15-mph winds (swaying the lines) to all of that weight, the lines snap or break. Also, tree limbs sag onto the lines or fall onto the lines causing massive power failures."

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Map: Forecast High Temperatures

Just north of the ice zone, heavy snow whitened many areas. Up to a foot of snow blanketed south-central Missouri and far northern Arkansas.

Oncor Power Company, which delivers power to more than 3 million customers in Texas, reported more than 260,000 power outages at the peak of the storm early Friday.

"Nearly all Oncor customers will have power restored by late Sunday night," according to a press release on the company's website.

Those still without power and heat will have to continue to find ways to stay warm with cold air entrenched over the area through at least the next several days.

After a frigid Friday night, temperatures only climbed into the 20s on Saturday from Dallas, Texas, to Little Rock, Ark.

The weekend cold will also lay the groundwork for another round of sleet and freezing drizzle for portions of the South Saturday night into Sunday, once again threatening slippery travel conditions.


"The worst of the [next round of] ice will miss the hardest-hit areas of Texas and Arkansas but will get into some of the areas hit by Friday's ice in Tennessee and Kentucky," Expert Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said.

Highs will fail to climb above the 30s from northern Texas to Arkansas, which is approximately 20 degrees below normal, through Tuesday.

Additionally, more cold air is in store for the Ohio Valley, which received snow, sleet and rain from the late-week storm.

"Temperatures will likely reach zero on several days over the next two weeks," Smith said.

Dec. 5-6, 2013, Ice Storm Setup

The setup was ripe for a major ice storm, as very cold air settled in at the surface and milder air rushed up and over it.


"It was a nearly perfect ice storm with temperatures around 50 F at 5,000 to 7,000 feet above the ground and temperatures below freezing near the surface," Smith said. "These shallow Arctic air masses are perfect for ice storms."

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