Lingering ice continues to cause deadly hazards across Central states
AccuWeather's Bill Wadell reported live from Arlington on Feb. 3, where ice caused treacherous travel conditions for drivers and knocked out power to at least 40,000 homes.
Police departments and road crews across Texas were asking residents on Friday to stay off the road despite the storm being long gone.
Texas was one of the numerous states impacted by an expansive winter storm that disrupted air travel across the country, sparked severe weather in the South and led to mayhem on the roads, resulting in at least four fatalities, according to officials.
One person was fatally injured Thursday evening on I-10 near Kerrville, Texas, when a tractor-trailer attempted to slow for traffic that was at a standstill due to inclement weather conditions, according to Sergeant Jonathan Lamb of the Kerrville Police Department. The trailer collided with a Ford F-350 pickup that was stopped for traffic, seriously injuring its two occupants. Police reported to the incident around 9:30 p.m. local time, with Kerrville Fire EMS transporting both injured parties to the hospital, listed in critical condition. One of the occupants of the pickup succumbed to his injuries early Friday morning.
"At this time there will be no charges pending for the driver of the tractor-trailer, as it appears road conditions at the time of the accident were a major contributing factor," Lamb said.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott had issued a disaster declaration for 17 counties Thursday evening, saying, "This ice storm poses an imminent threat of severe property damage, injury, or loss of life," as temperatures plunged into the low 20s across a large portion of the state and various forms of frozen precipitation accumulated.
The icy roads had already proved to be deadly on Wednesday after the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office (BCSO) in New Mexico reported a fatality in a rollover crash on a mountainous road just outside of Albuquerque. Officials closed the road following the accident, saying conditions were extremely icy and snow-packed.
Another fatality was reported in western Alabama, this time on the warmer side of the storm after severe weather developed. Hale County Emergency Management Director Russell Weeden told WVTM13 that a radar-confirmed tornado had left one woman dead and at least eight other people injured. Three of the victims were in critical condition and the other five had minor injuries.
Storm Chaser Mike Scantlin reported that one child was killed and another injured in Tulsa, Oklahoma, after separate incidents of sledding and ending up in the roadway ahead of an oncoming car.
While the storm had moved out of the Central states and Midwest by Friday morning, low temperatures and winds ensured that some of its impacts, particularly icy roads, stuck around.
"That freezing rain, sleet, snow and ice that fell yesterday, well, it was all packed down by drivers," AccuWeather National Reporter Bill Wadell said while reporting from Waxahachie, Texas, south of Dallas, on Friday. "You can see basically everything on the roads froze last night."
Overnight temperatures lingered below freezing around Dallas, and while the sunshine and rebounding temperatures helped to melt some of the ice come Friday afternoon, anything that melted refroze by Saturday morning.
The storm slowed air travel at airports in Texas, Illinois, Colorado and Ohio, with a total of over 5,200 flights in the United States canceled on Thursday, according to FlightAware.
Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport saw over 1,400 arrival and departure cancellations with at least another 156 flights delayed as of Thursday night. Some of the grounded flights followed American Airlines making the call to cancel the rest of its inbound flights to Dallas-Fort Worth Thursday night.
The airline confirmed with Wadell that the flights had been canceled due to deteriorating weather conditions.
"We apologize to our customers whose travel plans may be affected and want to thank our team who is working tirelessly to help safely care for our customers," according to a statement from the airline.
The ensuing ice tested the mettle of Texas' power grid after the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) had declared most of its electric generation units and transmission facilities fully winterized following last February's deep freeze event.
Local power outages -- having more to do with winds and icing conditions interfering with power lines rather than power generators going offline like during last February -- tallied roughly 70,000 customers throughout the state by Thursday morning, according to The Associated Press. That number had eased to 14,000 customers by Saturday morning, according to PowerOutage.US, as crews worked to restore power.
Icicles cling to traffic cameras in Memphis, Tennessee. (Tennessee Department of Transportation)
By Thursday evening, over 200,000 customers across the U.S. found themselves without power, with the majority concentrated in western Tennessee. Over 137,000 customers in the state found themselves without power, and in Memphis, the ice-encased trees, slicked roads and even obscured traffic camera footage as icicles formed on them.
Cities like Taos, New Mexico; Security, Colorado; Macomb, Illinois; and New London, Missouri; all saw over a foot of snowfall from the storm by Thursday evening.
While Bella Vista, Arkansas, didn’t see totals tally quite as high, it did see an astounding 9 inches of snow, the highest total in the state thus far.
Farther north, Flint, Michigan, set a new daily maximum snowfall record Wednesday as snow piled up to 11 inches, breaking the old record of 8.3 inches set in 2011. Detroit also set a new daily maximum snowfall record with 6.2 inches on Wednesday, surpassing the old record of 4.3 inches also recorded in 2011.
Temperatures plummeted across much of the central U.S. as a strong cold front pushed across the region during the week.
"For much of the region, this is the coldest air of the season so far and, in fact, many places saw near record-breaking temperatures, but very few broke official records," AccuWeather Meteorologist Maxwell Gawryla said, adding that most of the central U.S. from the Dakotas into Texas saw a gradual drop in temperatures throughout the day of generally 20 to 30 degrees. Farther east, some sites in Kentucky reported temperatures dropping roughly 15 degrees in under half an hour.
By Friday, the storm had moved into the Northeast -- the final stretch of its cross-country trek.
For the latest weather news check back on AccuWeather.com. Watch the AccuWeather Network on DIRECTV, Frontier, Spectrum, fuboTV, Philo, and Verizon Fios. AccuWeather Now is now available on your preferred streaming platform.Report a Typo
Top StoriesMore Stories