AccuWeather.com is wrapping up live coverage of the winter storm that spawned snow, gusty winds, heavy rain and severe weather across the eastern third of the country. AccuWeather radar Friday morning showed the storm moving off the East Coast and out to sea. In the wake of this storm, much colder air will flow back into the region. Thank you for staying up to date with the storm on AccuWeather.com. For additional coverage, you can stream AccuWeather NOW anytime on our website. Stay up to date on the latest weather in your area by downloading the AccuWeather mobile app and visiting AccuWeather.com.
The storm departing the Northeast early Friday. (AccuWeather)
AccuWeather’s Bill Wadell reported on severe weather from Leeds, Alabama, Thursday, where damaging thunderstorms toppled trees and caused flooding. In one part of town, a tree split a mobile home in half with two people inside, Wadell reported. A woman who was in the home told Wadell she heard crashing noises and the storm coming. She grabbed pillows and took shelter on the floor of the home before neighbors helped her escape unharmed. A man inside the home was also able to get out without suffering any injuries, according to Wadell, who added that there were also flooded roads around Leeds. Residents in the area told Wadell they will have a better idea of the damage when they survey the area Friday morning.
AccuWeather's Bill Wadell reported from the scene of severe storm damage in Alabama after tornado warnings throughout the area.
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The storm that affected much of the eastern third of the country with everything from snow and ice to severe weather and flooding is coming to an end. Below is a synopsis of the highest wind gust, rainfall total, snowfall total and the number of tornadoes reported thus far.
The number of power outages is rising quickly this morning as gusty winds arrive in the wake of the storm. As of 4 a.m., both Pennsylvania and West Virginia are reporting over 30,000 customers without electricity, according to PowerOutage.US. Elsewhere, Ohio, New Jersey, New York and North Carolina are all reporting more than 10,000 customers in the dark. Winds will diminish today, but another round of gusty winds is expected on Saturday, especially in the Northeast. These winds will howl through the Upper Midwest Friday, so power outages may increase in states such as Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Kansas City, Missouri, received 7.0 inches of snow on Thursday, breaking a 129-year-old record. The previous record for Feb. 17 was 6.0 inches and had stood since 1893. Temperatures are expected to rise well above freezing on Friday, so some of that snow will begin to melt. However, temperatures will drop into the teens on Friday night, causing any slush and standing water to refreeze. Residents are urged to clear sidewalks and driveways during the day on Friday before any remaining snow freezes solid on Friday night.
Thunderstorms earlier Thursday evening dropped an inch of rain in just one hour in Birmingham, Alabama. This prompted the National Weather Service to issue a flash flood warning for the Birmingham metropolitan area. Motorists are reminded to never drive through a flooded roadway. It is impossible to tell how deep the water may be, especially at night. In addition, the roadway underneath the flood water may have been washed away. Heavy rain has also occurred elsewhere, including in Missouri, Kentucky and Oklahoma.
As a potent storm crossed the southern portion of the United States, high winds were reported in many states. Topping the list was Wears Valley, Tennessee, which reported a 78 MPH wind gust early Thursday morning. Strong wind gusts were also reported in Oklahoma and Mississippi -- each reporting wind gusts of above 55 MPH. The National Weather Service reported several trees down across the southern United States throughout the day on Thursday. A large tree limb was down on Interstate 55 in Mississippi on Thursday.
First, collect your supplies. You’ll need a ruler or a yard stick, white plywood board roughly 16 inches in size and a flag or something to help locate the board later. Find an open area away from tall objects, but sheltered from wind to place the white board, marking it with the flag to set up. During events with high winds, the National Weather Service recommends taking measurements from several locations and averaging them out. You’ll want to set up before the snow begins. Then, once the snow begins to fall, measure the snow that has fallen on the board daily at the same time. All totals should be recorded to the nearest tenth of an inch. As soon as it stops snowing, measure the snow one last time to avoid lower totals due to melting, settling and drifting. After that, all that’s left to do is share your report with your local National Weather Service station.
Many places around the Kansas City area have measured 10 inches of snow on Thursday. After an expansive storm went through Kansas and Missouri, some cities are now digging out from several inches of snow. Four cities in Kansas recorded 10 inches of snow on Thursday, including Shawnee, Williamstown, Eudora and De Soto. On the Missouri side, several cities recorded 9 inches of snow including Kansas City, Missouri, and Greenwood, Missouri.
A band of heavy snow made its way through the Chicago metro area on Thursday evening as a potent storm continues to make its way across the United States. The National Weather Service warned of snowfall rates in excess of 1 inch per hour for much of the area. Blowing snow will cause low visibility and create poor road conditions. Meanwhile, heavy snow will also create difficult driving conditions through the evening commute.
The wintry storm was wreaking havoc for motorists on the highways and byways throughout the Midwest. One driver, Austin Grubb, posted a video on social media showing a long line of tractor-trailer trucks and other vehicles that found themselves stuck on Route 61 northbound, just south of Hannibal, Missouri, as the snowfall was intensifying in the state. A second video he posted showed near white-out conditions and semi-trucks stranded in the median.
On Feb. 17, semi trucks were stuck in the snow on US 61 North, south of Hannibal, Missouri.
A portion of Interstate 39 in Illinois was shut down on Thursday after about 100 vehicles were involved in a mass collision.The crash occurred in El Paso, Illinois, at mile marker 14, according to WEEK-TV. Illinois State Police said the crash spans several hundred yards. The southbound lanes of Interstate 39 have been shut down at El Paso. Snowy conditions caused the interstate to be snow packed at the time of the crash. The area remains under a Winter Storm Warning until 9 p.m. local time tonight.
More than 1,100 flights have been canceled across the United States as of Thursday evening as a major storm system pushed through the Midwest, according to the FlightAware airline tracking site. Those numbers were slowly ticking upwards as the hours wore on. Southwest and regional carrier SkyWest accounted for most of the canceled flights, with Chicago O’Hare International Airport and Detroit’s Metropolitan Wayne County Airport most impacted, with 308 flight cancellations total, more than any other airport in the country. Overall flight delays topped 3,400.
A record-breaking storm is so large, it can be seen stretching across the United States from space. NOAA's GOES-16 satellite was able to pick up the storm as it moved across the central United States on Thursday. In the images, a large swath of white could be seen stretching from Texas all the way to Maine as the storm made its way across the heartland and Midwest. Everything from tornadoes to winter weather is forecast to occur from this expansive system through Friday.
GOES-16 satellite imagery from February 17, 2022. (NASA)
A multi-vehicle pileup has forced the closure of Interstate 65 southbound near Southeast Grove, Indiana, amid snowy conditions. Traffic cameras in the area showed trucks and vehicles at a standstill on the stretch of the snow-packed highway. A person on Twitter claimed to be a truck driver stuck behind the pileup and called it “a repeat of I-95 in Virginia,” in reference to an early January snowstorm that stranded some motorists on the interstate for over 24 hours. It is unclear how long I-65 will be closed or if there were any serious injuries in the pileup.
A multi-vehicle pileup shut down Interstate 65 southbound, south of Route 2 just south of Gary, Indiana, backing up traffic for miles during a snowstorm that was moving through the Midwest on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022. State transportation officials said road conditions were quickly deteriorating. (Indiana DOT)
Snow keeps piling up in Kansas City, Kansas, with one report of 9.3 inches accumulating since midnight. If this amount is verified, it would make today the snowiest calendar day in Kansas City since Feb. 25, 1993, when 10.5 inches fell. The National Weather Service office will likely wait until the evening to release the official snowfall report, which is taken at Kansas City International Airport. The heavy snow and brutal cold are a dramatic turnaround from what unfolded just one day earlier in Kansas City. On Wednesday, the high temperature topped out at 67 degrees as residents were treated to an early taste of spring. That all ended Thursday. At around 3 p.m. local time, the temperature in Kansas City was sitting at 21 degrees with an AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperature of 5. The average high temp there for this time of year is 45 degrees.
A handful of schools across Middle Tennessee dismissed their students from classes early due to high winds and severe weather, according to the Tennessean. Most of the county’s schools dismissed two to three hours early, with a handful dismissing at noon or 11:30 a.m., local time. The majority of Tennessee was under a wind advisory by Thursday afternoon, with parts of the western side of the state under tornado watches or severe thunderstorm warnings.
Another Kansas Highway Patrol (KHP) trooper was struck in the Wichita area as roadway conditions continue to deteriorate. The trooper was okay, according to a tweet sent out by the KHP. The incident comes after a trooper’s vehicle was struck by a semi on eastbound I-70 at West Union in Shawnee County. There were no further details released on the second accident, though the KHP warned motorists to slow down on the roads and stay home if possible.
A flash flood warning has been issued by the National Weather Service in eastern Erie county in Ohio, through the rest of the day Thursday to an ice jam. There are multiple high water and swift water rescues ongoing in the city of Vermilion, Ohio, according to a tweet from NWS Cleveland. The Vermilion River peaked at 15.82 feet Thursday afternoon, which is 6.82 feet over the flood stage. By 1 p.m. local time, the flood stage had dropped to 14.74 feet. This is the highest the river has been since it last crested in July, 2013 with a flood stage of 9.67 feet, and comes just short of the all-time record of 17.1 feet, which occurred in 1969. The NWS is advising people who come across flooded roadways to “turn around, don’t drown.”
Rain, snow and a wintry mix are causing a number of problems Thursday, but even after precipitation winds down, there will be another concern: plummeting temperatures. The cold air racing across the country is erasing a spring preview that brought temperatures in the 60s and 70s to the central U.S., including Oklahoma City and Kansas City, on Wednesday. Both of those cities had temperatures below freezing Thursday morning.
“As temperatures plunge from west to east, areas of standing water, slush and moisture will freeze unless treated with significant ice-melting compounds. On top of that, many crews may not be able to successfully pre-treat roads as rain will quickly wash away chemicals used to melt snow and ice,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski stated.
The National Weather Service has issued a tornado warning for parts of Mississippi Thursday afternoon north of the state's capital of Jackson. The tornado warning came shortly after the tornado watch was issued. The environment is capable of developing tornadoes as well as gusty winds, severe thunderstorms, hail and heavy downpours. There is a high likelihood that there will be more tornado warnings throughout Thursday. Nashville, Tennessee, Jackson, Mississippi, and Huntsville, Alabama, are all at high risk for severe weather and tornadoes Thursday afternoon and evening.
The ongoing snowstorm across the central U.S. has officially entered the record books. The National Weather Service office in Kansas City measured 6.4 inches of snow around midday Thursday, setting a new daily snowfall record. The previous record for Feb. 17 was over a century old when 6.0 inches accumulated on Feb. 17, 1893. Snow is still falling over Kansas City, with a snowfall total of 8 to 10 inches likely.
As snow and strong winds snarl travel across part of the central U.S., AccuWeather meteorologists say that blizzard conditions cannot be ruled out. For a snowstorm to be considered a blizzard, three criteria need to be met:
Sustained winds must be at 35 mph or higher
Snow needs to reduce visibility to less than one-quarter of a mile
These conditions need to be maintained for at least three consecutive hours
So far, no weather station has reported blizzard conditions, but some locations are close. Heavy, blowing snow has reduced visibility to one-quarter of a mile or less in Wichita, Kansas, for most of the morning, but sustained winds have remained below 35 mph.
Extreme Meteorologist Reed Timmer is in Columbus, Mississippi, awaiting the first severe thunderstorms of the day to erupt, the strongest of which, known as supercells, could spawn strong tornadoes. “I expect multiple rounds of supercell storms,” Timmer said. “Here in Columbus, many of the schools and businesses are closing early today in anticipation of the severe weather event,” Timmer said. Watch Timmer’s complete analysis of today’s severe weather outbreak below:
The Storm Prediction Center has issued a tornado watch for parts of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee until 6 p.m. CST Thursday evening. A tornado watch means that conditions are favorable for tornadoes to develop and any individuals located within the watch area should have a plan ready if a tornado occurs. There is also a chance of hail, severe thunderstorms, heavy rainfall and gusty winds to develop with these storms. Tornado warnings are often issued minutes before a tornado hits and are an urgent call to seek shelter immediately. There are currently no active tornado warnings.
After a taste of spring, many areas in the central U.S. are back to winter weather. On Wednesday, Lawrence, Kansas, which is just west of Topeka, had a high temperature of 67 degrees Fahrenheit. By Thursday morning, the temperature had dropped more than 45 degrees and snow covered the ground. Residents of Lawrence woke up to 7 inches of snow with a temperature of 19 degrees F. Combined with the gusty winds, the town clocked an AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperature of 6 degrees below zero F. Temperatures are much more brutal in parts of Kansas than in Anchorage, Alaska, which had a temperature in the mid-30s as of 8:30 a.m. local time. The return to winter was felt not only in Lawrence but also in Baldwin City, Kansas, where residents measured 5.50 inches of snow Thursday morning. Just to the east of both of these towns, freezing rain and sleet is falling across parts of Missouri and Illinois. Hallsville, Missouri, recorded 1 inch of sleet and Mexico, Missouri, measured 0.80 of an inch of sleet as of Thursday morning.
In the latest episode of AccuWeather’s Weather Insider podcast, AccuWeather Chief Broadcast Meteorologist Bernie Rayno said Mother Nature is throwing everything but the kitchen sink at parts of the central U.S. today. Rayno is joined by Broadcast Meteorologist Melissa Constanzer to discuss the wild weather caused by the dynamic storm and why it feels like a springtime storm. Give it a listen below.
As a cold front moves east across Texas, temperatures are drastically different from one side of the state to the other. On Thursday morning, in Channing, which is just northwest of Amarillo, the temperature was only 19 degrees Fahrenheit. Roughly 515 miles to the southwest, right outside of Houston, the temperature in Huntsville was 72 degrees Thursday morning. This is a 53-degrees temperature difference between the two sides of the state. The cold front will continue to move to the east today and temperatures are expected to drop into the low 30s overnight.
A dynamic weather system is bringing a trio of threats, with snow, severe weather and flooding expected to impact a vast swath of the country. When it comes to flooding, the greatest flood risk will spread from Nashville, Tennessee, to Syracuse, New York. Scattered torrential downpours and snowmelt will contribute to an enhanced risk of small river and stream flooding, which could cause travel delays and make for dangerous commutes for some. The flood risk is especially high in areas where the ground is frozen and where snow melt will be triggered by high temperatures and heavy rains, a process that will add even more water to swollen creeks and rivers.
Snow arrived in Kansas City around 3 a.m. CST Thursday, and by the morning commute, many roads across the region were packed with snow, including Interstate 35. A traffic camera from the Missouri Department of Transportation showed traffic moving at a snail’s pace after several vehicles pulled off to the side of the highway amid the snowy conditions. This is just one of many examples of weather-related backups across the city. Anyone traveling across the region through Thursday afternoon should allow plenty of extra time to reach their destination and have these 10 items in their car’s winter emergency kit.
Traffic was nearly at a standstill on Interstate 35 northbound near Kansas City amid snowy weather on Feb. 17, 2022. (Missouri DOT)
Thundersnow was recorded on video from Kansas City, Missouri, early Thursday morning. In a video shared on Twitter, the flash of lightning can be seen illuminating part of the city around 5 a.m. CST. Thundersnow was also recorded by a camera in Wichita, Kansas, in the early morning hours of Thursday. Thundersnow is an unusual thunderstorm that produces snow instead of rain. This relatively rare phenomenon happens when temperatures and moisture conditions are just right. It is accompanied by heavy snowfall rates and reduced visibility. Snowfall rates of 1-2 inches per hour were occurring in Kansas City.
High wind advisories stretch from Bay City, Texas, to Baring, Maine, a distance of more than 1,900 miles. On the warm side of the storm, a racing cold front will bring the threat of severe weather from the lower Mississippi Valley to the Tennessee Valley. Damaging wind gusts, large hail, thunderstorms and isolated tornadoes are all possible. As the storm continues to move to the east, it will bring damaging wind gusts, flooding downpours and much colder weather to the Northeast. On the colder side of the storm, winter storm warnings and advisories span 1,500 miles from western Oklahoma to northern Maine. This side of the storm will bring an area of heavy snow from northern Oklahoma to northern Maine. Areas of sleet and freezing rain will remain just to the south of the heaviest snowfall.
After experiencing mild temperatures Wednesday, Texans in the northern portion of the state are gearing up for severe weather including lightning, heavy rainfall and hail. However, the rain and turn in temperatures could help crews contain fires currently burning through the state, AccuWeather National Reporter Bill Wadell said. Temperatures are expected to drop drastically in the central U.S., turning springlike weather back into winter. “In a matter of 24 hours, we’re going to go from April warmth, with temperatures in the 60s and 70s, back to January, with temperatures in the 20s.” AccuWeather Chief Video Meteorologist Bernie Rayno said.
A robust storm traveling across the contiguous United States will deliver a mix of strong winds, wintry weather and severe weather on Thursday. More than 20 million people across the south-central U.S. will be at risk for severe weather throughout the day as unseasonably warm and moist air clashes with incoming cold air. Major cities like New Orleans; Jackson, Mississippi; Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee; Montgomery, Alabama; and Atlanta will be at risk for severe weather into the evening hours Thursday. Meanwhile, on the cold side of the storm farther north, up to a foot of snow is anticipated to fall in some locations from Kansas to Michigan. However, the threat won’t end Friday as drenching rain and melting snow will contribute to rapid runoff and flooding from the Lower Great Lakes to the interior Northeast.
Tornadoes are one of the most destructive weather events to occur across the U.S., but they can be even more dangerous under the cover of night. Preparing in advance and reacting as quickly as possible to the weather can often make the difference between life and death. A leading independent quality assurance study overwhelmingly concluded that AccuWeather’s app was the first to deliver severe weather push notifications, and people have told AccuWeather that the notifications pushed by the app “literally saved our lives” during a severe weather outbreak. Other than installing the AccuWeather app and setting it to receive push notifications, it’s essential to ensure that a cellphone is charged. A battery-powered weather radio is also important to keep on hand, as well as a flashlight, bottled water, closed-toed shoes and a warm blanket.
Thunderstorms delivered a jarring round of ice and snow to communities near Los Angeles on Tuesday, and AccuWeather forecasters say that these storms can give some insight into what the eastern portion of the nation can expect. The storms that unleashed hail across parts of Southern California Tuesday “show the intensity of the atmospheric disturbance,” AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Jonathan Porter said, adding that the storm is likely to produce significant impacts as it moves eastward across the nation. Storm systems such as the one just seen delivering noteworthy impacts to California generate alarm bells about more disruptive and severe weather as the storm progresses, ranging from tornadoes to significant snow.
Residents across the southern U.S. should brace for more than just severe weather with chilly air settling across the region in the wake of the intense storms. Temperatures will decline by 15 to 30 degrees Thursday into Friday from Texas through Maine, including the zone hit the hardest by the impending severe outbreak. The dramatic cooldown will be an issue for households left in the dark by outages sparked by the storms. “By Friday morning, temperatures will have fallen as low as the 30s and 40s across the western Gulf Coast,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Jessica Storm said. Fortunately, this is not predicted to be an extended cold snap with temperatures returning to springlike levels over the weekend.
Tornadoes can strike quickly, often leaving little time to prepare in the moment. For this reason, having a tornado kit ready and waiting in a storm shelter could save a life. The basic kit should include water, nonperishable food, a first aid kit, a flashlight and batteries. When sheltering pets and infants, baby formula, diapers and pet food are also good additions to keep in mind. “We urge people to keep a kit at home, in their car, and if they do have a storm shelter, that would be a good place for a kit, as well,” said Lucinda Parker, Public Information Officer at the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
Other items to include in a kit include:
Pillows, blankets and other bedding that could be used as protection from debris
Toilet paper and bags for sanitation
Personal sanitation items such as a toothbrush, deodorant, etc.
A change of clothes per person
A wrench or pliers
A mask to filter the air
A large swath of weather alerts associated with the oncoming storm stretched across the U.S. from Oklahoma to Maine on Wednesday afternoon, covering weather hazards from wind to flooding to wintry conditions. The majority of the wind advisories stretch from the Gulf Coast up into the southern portion of the Midwest, with a section of high wind watches in eastern Kentucky and eastern Tennessee. Areal flood watches stretch from Missouri to Vermont, with winter storm warnings and winter weather advisories along the northern side of the storm’s path through Oklahoma to Michigan and a portion of northern New York and Maine.