A winter storm gripped Texas with extreme cold causing a pipe to burst in Austin, Texas, on Feb. 17. Several homes were flooded as a result.
AccuWeather's live coverage of this ongoing storm in the Northeast, as well as lingering impacts of the massive power outages in Texas as a result of historic cold and snow, has ended. Scroll down to read coverage from Monday, Feb. 15 and check out photos from the wild week in weather in the gallery below. For continued coverage, stick with AccuWeather.com and tune into the AccuWeather TV Network.
At least 40 people across the United States have died this week from the extreme weather conditions that has gripped the country as of Thursday. According to The Associated Press, many of the deaths were related to people desperate to stay warm in the freezing conditions. A family in Houston died from carbon monoxide poisoning from leaving their car on in their garage, and a 75-year-old woman and her three grandchildren died in a fire that authorities believe was created in a fireplace. A woman from Kentucky also died after having no heat or power for two days. Officials believe the cause of death was likely hypothermia.In addition, multiple people were killed after falling through ice, and one 9-year-old boy was killed while playing outside with his father in Tennessee. The AP reports his dad was pulling him behind an ATV on an icy street when the boy hit a mailbox.
Power outages across Texas are continuing to be restored, although more outages are continuing to pop up as the stormy weather travels north. As of 6 p.m. EDT on Thursday, over 350,000 customers in Texas were still out of power, according to poweroutage.us. That number was down from more than 500,000 customers who were experiencing outages on Thursday morning. Louisiana also reported over 100,000 customers out of power on Thursday evening and Mississippi reported over 130,000. Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia and Ohio also reported a slew of outages, with Kentucky reporting over 70,000. West Virginia reported over 59,000, Virginia reported over 33,000 and Ohio reported over 10,000 outages.
It was a bitterly cold night when David Gehrke was driving his snow plow around West Bend, Wisconsin, when he came across a startling sight alongside the road around 4 a.m. on Friday, Fe.b 12. "I realized that was not a dog or a deer, that was a small little boy just dressed in a pair of zip-up onesie pajammies," Gehrke told WISN News. The temperature at the time was below 0 F, so Gehrke acted fast, going back to help the lost 5-year-old, who was later identified as Maddox Pierce. According to WISN, the boy thought that he was home alone so he left to go to his grandfather’s house, although his aunt was at the house when Pierce left. "I immediately took my jacket off and wrapped it around him and put him in the truck," Gehrke said. "I called police dispatch. I got the heat blasting in the truck. I'll keep him warm until we get help on the way." Following Gehrke’s quick action to save the boy, the West Bend police awarded the snowplow driver with a certificate of appreciation. Watch the video below to hear the first-hand accounts from the snow plow driver and the boy’s mother:
The ongoing snowstorm has been far from a blockbuster in the Northeast, but the snow that has accumulated in one city has sent one city to a major milestone from a climatological standpoint. As of Thursday afternoon, Philadelphia has measured 2.8 inches of snow. As it stands, this winter’s total snowfall in Philadelphia is now 22.5 inches, which is the exact amount of snow that typically falls in the city during an average winter. With the potential for more snow into Friday, this storm could officially make this winter snowier-than-normal in the City of Brotherly Love. Not only would this be an above-average winter for snowfall, but it is significantly more than what fell in the city during the winter of 2019-2020. Last winter, only 0.3 of an inch of snow fell throughout the entire winter, the second-lowest seasonal snowfall total on record.
Although Philadelphia has measured under 3 inches of snow thus far, areas north and west of the city are closing in on the one-foot mark. Norristown, Pennsylvania, has measured the most snow with 10.2 inches as of Thursday afternoon.
The wintry precipitation has slowed down around Washington, D.C. and surrounding areas, but residents are still coping with the aftermath of the storm. In Hollywood, Maryland, everything is covered in a coating of ice after an extended period of freezing rain. Even the birds will have to watch their heads when flying to get a snack from a local bird feeder.
Icicles hang on the roof of a bird feeder in Hollywood, Maryland, on Feb. 18, 2021. (Twitter/ @ken0676)
Despite a pause in the precipitation, pockets of snow, sleet and freezing rain will linger around Delmarva into Thursday night. The snow and ice that fell across this section of the mid-Atlantic will start to melt away on Friday with the temperature in Washington, D.C. forecast to reach 38 F on Friday.
The Philadelphia Eagles traded their face of the franchise, quarterback Carson Wentz, on Thursday to the Indianapolis Colts while the city was getting walloped by snow and sleet. As the reaction of the significant trade made its way around the internet, the Philadelphia Police Department decided to use the news as a way to remind residents that saving parking spots around snow-covered city streets is illegal. In the past, residents have used a variety of household items, including lawn chairs and even old toilets, to block other cars from parking in freshly-shoveled parking spaces. With Wentz's departure, the police department tweeted an image with a No. 11, midnight green Wentz jersey on a snowy street as an example of an item some residents might use to save a parking spot. "Saving parking spots is illegal - even when offered multiple draft picks and cap relief. Be an MVP - shovel and share! #NoSavesies," the police department tweeted.
As Wentz prepares for the next phase of his career in Indianapolis, he won't have to worry about the weather for at least half of his games, as the Colts' Lucas Oil Stadium has a retractable roof.
Most of the snow has ended across Alabama, but some roads across the northern portion of the state remain covered in snow with some added obstacles. The Florence Police Department said that more than 100 vehicles were stuck and abandoned around the town of Florence, located in northwestern Alabama. “The Street Department is working to clear roads however, many roads are still impassable,” the police department tweeted. Officials are still urging drivers to remain off the roads unless it is an emergency so that crews can work to clear the snow and start to remove vehicles.
As the afternoon progresses, snow will continue to stream northeastward through New England, including in cities like Providence, Rhode Island, and Boston. But areas that have already been hit hard today are not completely out of the woods yet, as the second part of a double-barreled storm system tracks through the Northeast.
"Another wave of precipitation looks likely this evening, which could bring an additional burst of snow and sleet for central and eastern Pennsylvania, southern New York, New Jersey and Maryland," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Courtney Travis said. "Roads could still be quite slick and any motorists should use caution if they have to be out tonight."
Future radar shows another round of snow, rain and wintry mix on the way for the Northeast and mid-Atlantic later today, Feb. 18.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) issued an update Thursday morning on the ongoing power outage crisis in Texas. ERCOT said that it made "significant progress" during the overnight hours to help get the number of outages below 1 million. More than 511,000 customers are without power as of 10:30 a.m. Thursday, according to PowerOutage.US. ERCOT said despite the progress made, energy emergency conditions remain. "We’re to the point in the load restoration where we are allowing transmission owners to bring back any load they can related to this load shed event," said ERCOT Senior Director of System Operations Dan Woodfin. "We will keep working around the clock until every single customer has their power back on."
It was a wintry mess in Virginia on Thursday morning as the state was battered by freezing rain, sleet and snow, although the type of precipitation that was falling from the sky depended heavily on location. Around one inch of sleet was measured by folks around Richmond and Charlottesville, Virginia, but some areas closer to Washington, D.C. measured twice that amount. A trained weather spotter in South Riding, Virginia, located just west of the nation’s capital, reported two inches of the ice pellets around 10:30 a.m. EST Thursday with wintry precipitation still falling from the sky. Some Twitter users even posted videos of ‘sleetfalls’ coming off of their roofs due to the quick build-up of the icy precipitation.
It was snowing again across a broad section of Texas Thursday morning, including in the Austin area, which saw anywhere from about 4 inches to 7 inches of accumulation earlier this week. At 9:30 a.m., CDT, snow was falling in Austin and the temperature was holding at a frosty 27 degrees.
Weather conditions in Austin, Texas, on the morning of Feb. 18, 2021 were almost identical to weather conditions in New York City. (AccuWeather)
Interestingly, that was almost the identical weather that was playing out some 1,513 miles away to the north and east in New York City, where another snowstorm was hitting hard on Thursday morning. At 10:30 a.m., EST, the temperature in the Big Apple was 26 degrees and heavy snow was falling. The AccuWeather RealFeel Temperature in New York was at 17 degrees, about 12 degrees chillier than in Austin. People can track all of this on AccuWeather.com or the AccuWeather mobile app, which allows users to easily track weather conditions and forecasts in their locale – or anywhere else in the world. Just search a location.
Weather conditions in New York City on the morning of Feb. 18, 2021 were almost identical to weather conditions in Austin, Texas, halfway across the country and much farther to the south as winter weather continued impacting much of the U.S. (AccuWeather)
Snow is starting to pile up in the Big Apple as a band of heavy snow moves through the New York City area. At 10 a.m. EST, the weather observing station in Central Park was reporting heavy snow that was limiting the visibility to just one-quarter of a mile. A camera operated by EarthCam showed a snowy scene at Times Square with some snow starting to accumulate on the road below. AccuWeather is forecasting a storm total of 6 to 10 inches in the city, which would only be the second-biggest storm of the month after 14.8 inches fell on Feb. 1.
Times Square looked like a winter wonderland on Feb. 18, 2021, as a snowstorm swept through the New York City area. (EarthCam)
It’s an icy morning for some residents of Virginia, North Carolina and West Virginia as a far-reaching winter storm disrupts the daily lives of residents across the eastern U.S. Virginia has reported some of the worst conditions with 0.25 of an inch of ice already measured in several spots across the southern portion of the state with a wintry mix of freezing rain, sleet and snow farther north. Travel is slower than normal along almost the entire stretch of Interstate 81 through Virginia. Meanwhile, motorists planning to travel on Interstate 64 west of Charlottesville are being forced to find an alternate route to their destination after a crash amid snowy conditions forced the eastbound lanes to be shut down, according to Virginia DOT. Conditions will deteriorate further throughout Thursday as the snow, sleet and freezing rain continue to pile up across the region.
On the latest edition of AccuWeather's Weather Insider podcast, AccuWeather Chief On-Air Meteorologist Bernie Rayno says the current storm in the Northeast is "thumping snow" in the southeastern Pennsylvania area. Rayno highlights what's expected through the rest of the region as the storm tracks into New England later today. Plus, he discusses when the next storm threat could occur for the mid-Atlantic and Northeast as well as when a warmup could occur in the Central states. Give it a listen below.
Mother Nature continues to wreak havoc with vaccination efforts around the country, this time in the Northeast. New York City on Thursday closed down a vaccination site in two of its boroughs – one in Queens and another on Staten Island, WABC reported. The reason for the closures was twofold – due the bad weather and low supplies of vaccine dosages, shipments of which have been disrupted by the ongoing wintry blast impacting much of the country. As of Thursday morning, New York City has administered 3.3 million doses. In terms of snowfall this season, the city has accumulated 33.8 inches coming into Thursday – nearly double its usual amount for this time of year. And AccuWeather forecasters say another 6-10 inch snowfall is on the way Thursday into Friday.
The same system that is unloading snow, sleet and freezing rain over the mid-Atlantic is also threatening part of the Southeast with severe thunderstorms. A tornado watch is in effect for southern Georgia and the Florida Panhandle until 4 p.m. EST. This includes Damascus, Georgia, which was hit by an EF2 tornado on Monday. "During late Thursday afternoon and evening, the threat of severe thunderstorms and isolated tornadoes will extend from the northern part of the Florida Peninsula to coastal Georgia and the low country of South Carolina," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson said.
The next winter storm for the Northeast is well underway, as snow is piling up across the region early this morning. Farther south, an icy mix continues to fall across parts of the Carolinas, Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware. Some of the highest snowfall reports in the region Thursday morning have come in from southeastern Pennsylvania. More than 5 inches have been reported in King of Prussia, located in suburban Philadelphia. Parts of Maryland and West Virginia have also reported a 5-inch snowfall total. The AccuWeather radar also shows snow falling across the New York City area, where 6-12 inches is forecast. The Big Apple has already received nearly twice its normal seasonal snowfall to date with nearly 33.8 inches compared to a normal of 17.1 inches.
Around 2 a.m. local time, the number of power outages fell below a million customers in Texas, according to PowerOutage.US, down from a peak of over 4 million. A small area of south-central Texas is forecast to continue experiencing snow and ice today, but the power outage figures are expected to continue to fall as precipitation ends in other areas and temperatures will be higher than recent days in most of the state.
Ice falling in Mississippi has snapped trees and taken down power lines, leading to over 150,000 residents without power in the state, according to PowerOutage.us. The power company Entergy has dispered 550 additional linemen through the area trying to restore power. Unfortunately, freezing rain is continuing to fall in parts of the state, which will only delay the repair efforts.
Radar image at 9:50 PM CST (AccuWeather)
AccuWeather Founder and CEO Dr. Joel N. Myers estimates the total damage and economic loss caused by the recent coast-to-coast winter storms to be between $45 and $50 billion. To put the economic toll of the storm into context, AccuWeather’s estimate for the entire 2020 hurricane season, one of the most active hurricane seasons in recent years, was $60 to 65 billion compared with this estimate of $45 to $50 billion. “We have been experiencing one of the stormiest patterns seen in decades,” said Myers, who has been studying the economic impact of severe weather for over 50 years. “The damage has been exacerbated by the record cold temperatures that have pushed all the way to the Gulf Coast this week.” Myers’ expert analysis, made by incorporating independent methods to evaluate all direct and indirect impacts of the storms, helps emphasize the magnitude of the life-threatening crisis’ impact and the U.S. financial ramifications.
Many families are willing to go try anything to stay warm, sometimes making deadly decisions. Hundreds have been taken to hospitals with carbon monoxide poisoning, caused by many different things such as bringing a grill inside or keeping a car running in a garage, CBS News reports. If the power goes out, make sure you have not blown a circuit by checking the breakers in your home's electrical panel.
Make sure to keep all doors to the outside shut. Use towels to block drafts coming in from window and door cracks.
Carbon monoxide poisoning, fire and electric shock are hazards during an outage. Place generators away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
Limit non-emergency phone calls, this also minimizes network congestion. Texting is better for keeping phone lines open.
Pipes have burst all across Texas as the prolonged, extremely cold air has been too much for houses to handle. “We deal with heat here, not freezing cold,” Houston resident Noel Zepeda said in a video from inside his home. As he walks around, he shows how water is leaking from the ceiling due to a burst pipe with water pouring onto his bed and across the hardwood floor. “It’s not that we can’t handle the snow, it’s just that we never get this kind of temperatures down here, so our houses are not ready for this,” he added. Watch the video below to see just a glimpse of what it’s like for some Houston residents during this weather disaster.
The wintry precipitation is coming to an end across Texas and Oklahoma as the ongoing winter storm tracks toward the Northeast; although bitterly cold air will remain entrenched over the southern Plains in its wake. Snow has gradually spread across the Tennessee Valley throughout the evening with a mix of sleet and freezing rain falling farther south.
South-central Arkansas has measured the deepest snow from the latest storm with accumulations just shy of 12 inches in the town of Hope, located around 100 miles southwest of Little Rock. Some spots in Arkansas will likely eclipse the one-foot mark by the time the snow comes to an end on Wednesday night.
There have been so many power outages in the Houston area that a satellite operated by NASA has been able to detect the change in light emission from the city. The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi NPP satellite recently measured the amount of light emitted in the Houston area on the night of Feb. 7, before the outages, and then again on the night of Feb. 16, when there were around 1.4 million customers were without power. The areas that had electricity and were giving off light are shown in purple, yellow and orange, while areas without power are dark.
These satellite images, taken on Feb. 7, 2021, and Feb. 16, 2021, show the drop in light emissions in the Houston area amid widespread power outages in Texas. (Images/ NOAA-NASA Suomi NPP / VIIRS)
Power outages have been seen by satellites in the past, but according to Miguel Román, director of the Earth from Space Institute at Universities Space Research Association, this outage is unique. Román stated that it is rare to see large outages like this in developed countries like the U.S. and occurred all over Texas, not just near Houston. As of 5 p.m. CST Wednesday, the total number of outages in Texas was around 2.6 million, according to PowerOutage.us, down from the more than 4 million customers that were without power earlier in the week.
Lights and heat were restored to 1.2 million power customers in Texas on Wednesday afternoon as Texas PUC was able to add 6,000 megawatts to the power grid, Fox 26 Houston said. This is a major step in the right direction, but there is still plenty of work that needs to be done. More than 2.6 million customers were still in the dark, according to data gathered by PowerOutage.us. This number will likely fluctuate through at least the weekend as abnormally cold weather lingers over Texas. “Electricity may be on and off periodically and customers need to be prepared to be without power potentially for the duration of the generation shortage event, which could last several more days,” Houston area power company CenterPoint Energy said on Twitter. “If your power is on, conserve as much as possible.”
Icicles could be found on nearly every elevated surface across northern Louisiana on Wednesday as freezing rain from the winter storm encased everything in ice ranging from vehicles to plants to guard rails. As much as 0.50 of an inch of ice was reported across the area due to hours of freezing rain. Notchitoches, Louisiana, was one of the countless communities across the state that dealt with power outages brought on by the icy conditions. The outages paled in comparison to neighboring Texas, but amounted to around 110,000 early Wednesday afternoon, according to PowerOutage.us. Outages may continue to climb across Louisiana before the sleet and freezing rain tapers off on Wednesday night.
Ice forms on a hand rail outside of a building in Notchitoches, Louisiana, on Feb. 17, 2021. (Twitter/ @Natchitoche_WX)
Historic low temperatures have overtaxed Texas’ electrical grid leaving millions without electricity, water and heat for days. AccuWeather estimatesthe total damage and economic loss caused by the recent coast-to-coast winter storms to be between $45 and $50 billion. Many are at their wits' end after enduring coronavirus restrictions and now freezing amid power outages. "To go through all of that and then also to have stuff like this happen, it's like, 'One more historical event, and I'm going to develop PTSD,'" Brianna Blake, a mother of two sons, told the Texas Tribune on Wednesday. "I cannot do this."
With so many people affected, there is a need for organized aid and relief. Here is how you can help:
Donate to the Austin Area Urban League's #LoveThyNeighborTX campaign to raise funds to provide shelter, food, water, clothing.
Donate to the Austin Mutual Aid to help house people in the Austin area.
Give a home-cooked meal to homeless people by donating money to Austin’s Free Lunch program.
Help Austin's shelter animals stay warm by donating money or items like blankets, towels, tarps, animal crates, space heaters, dog houses and dog beds to local shelter Austin Pets Alive.
Send donations to Austin Pets Alive to provide food, medical care, shelter and more to help those who have pets.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) provided an update on its power restoration process earlier Wednesday as Texas remained in the dark for the third straight day amid harsh cold. The council said the ability to restore power to more homes is dependent on generator availability. Overnight, it restored power to 700,000 homes. As of 2 p.m. CST, nearly 3 million customers remain without power, according to PowerOutage.us. "We know millions of people are suffering," said ERCOT President and CEO Bill Magness. "We have no other priority than getting them electricity. No other priority."
ERCOT Senior Director of System Operations Dan Woodfin said that although more customers were reconnected to the grid early Wednesday, the aggregate energy consumption of customers (described as customers recently turned back on and those already on) was lower Wednesday morning due to slightly higher temperatures in the state. However, demand could increase again Wednesday night with the arrival of another cold front, he cautioned.
"The ability to restore more power is contingent on more generation coming back online," said Woodfin. Since the winter storm began on Monday, approximately 185 generating units have tripped offline for one reason or another. Some factors include frozen wind turbines, limited gas supplies, low gas pressure and frozen instrumentation, according to an ERCOT statement.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott delivered a scathing critique of ERCOT on Tuesday, and called on the state legislature to conduct an investigation into its preparations and decisions to ensure a power outage on this scale never happens again. “The Electric Reliability Council of Texas has been anything but reliable over the past 48 hours,” said Abbott. “Far too many Texans are without power and heat for their homes as our state faces freezing temperatures and severe winter weather. This is unacceptable. Reviewing the preparations and decisions by ERCOT is an emergency item so we can get a full picture of what caused this problem and find long-term solutions."
People wait in line to fill propane tanks Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021, in Houston. Customers waited over an hour in the freezing rain to fill their tanks. Millions in Texas still had no power after a historic snowfall and single-digit temperatures created a surge of demand for electricity to warm up homes unaccustomed to such extreme lows, buckling the state's power grid and causing widespread blackouts. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Temperatures have risen above freezing in the Houston area, leading officials to urge residents to avoid dripping water from their faucets. Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said Wednesday that residents should stop dripping water and also assume "you're under a boil water notice." This includes the entire city of Houston. Officials recommend bringing the water to a boil for at least two minutes before letting it cool and using it. Temperatures in Houston are expected to reach a high of 36 later this afternoon.
Jeff Lindner, a meteorologist with the Harris County Flood Control District, said on Twitter that temperatures were no longer at levels the will result in pipes freezing. " Pressure on several water systems is dangerously low due to broken pipes and power outages. Conserve as much water as possible," he wrote. The city of Rosenburg, Texas, said it was experiencing low water pressure earlier Wednesday and asked residents to shut off their water so that pressure and water supply could be restored.
The latest round of snow, sleet and freezing rain that hit the southern Plains Tuesday into Wednesday has its sights set on the Northeast where it will unload plowable snow across more than a dozen states. The worst of the storm will focus on a zone from West Virginia to southern New England where 6 to 12 inches of snow is predicted to accumulate. This could cause major disruptions for motorists along stretches of interstates 80, 81, 90 and 95.
South of this zone, a significant ice event may unfold as freezing rain glazes over parts of Virginia and North Carolina. Some ice may even cause disruptions in cities such as Baltimore and Washington, D.C. "This region has been hit with multiple ice storms over the past week or so, and this would be further insult to injury with the potential for more tree and property damage as well as regional power outages," AccuWeather Meteorologist Randy Adkins said. The worst of the storm is expected from Thursday morning into Friday afternoon with ice accumulating as much as 0.50 of an inch in the hardest-hit areas.
Jim "Mattress Mack" McIngvale is once again coming to the aid of those in need in the Houston area. McIngvale, who owns several Gallery Furniture stores around the Houston region, became a hero after offering the stores as shelter to those who lost their homes during 2017's catastrophic Hurricane Harvey. This week, as Arctic air prodcued record-challenging temps and rare snow fell across the city, he opened his stores once again as many were without power and nowhere to go. "The cold is bitter, so we're opening up the doors to Houstonians," Mattress Mack told ABC 13 in Houston. "Rather than complain about what should have been done, let's just do things that are good for the community. Get people out here. Whether they want to stay for two hours until their power gets back on, or they want to stay for two days, we're here for the community," he said. The stores have been transformed into warming centers and have food, coffee, hot chocolate, blankets and sweatshirts, ABC 13 said. Hear more from Mattress Mack in the video below.
For his benevolent and heroic actions, Mack was profiled as one of AccuWeather's "Weather Heroes" of the past decade. He spoke with staff writer Adriana Navarro in 2019 about what it was like in the aftermath of Harvey and why he stepped up to help the ailing community following the devastating storm. Read the article here.
The invasion of Arctic air across the Midwest and Plains this month has been one of the harshest in recent memory and likely has many residents clamoring for the upcoming spring season. Bone-chilling temperatures have left some areas like Nebraska colder than Siberia, and Alaska. Across the northern Plains and Upper Midwest, cities such as International Falls, Minnesota, and Grand Forks, North Dakota, spent more than a week before reaching a high temp above zero. That stretch of subzero cold lasted from Feb. 6 to Feb. 14 in both cities. Elsewhere, places like Minneapolis have experienced more than 10 straight days with temperatures 20 degrees below average.
AccuWeather Chief On-Air Meteorologist Bernie Rayno continues to express astonishment about the extremely active weather pattern that has gripped the country through this month. In the latest edition of AccuWeather's Weather Insider podcast, Rayno breaks down storm reports from the ongoing winter storm in the central U.S, and highlights the snowfall potential for the Northeast from the same system. Hear Rayno's detailed forecast, including where the heaviest snow will fall, below.
Make no mistake, it's another brutally cold morning across the central U.S. However, temperatures have shown a moderate increase compared to the extraordinary lows found across parts of the southern Plains on Tuesday. At 7 a.m. local time, Oklahoma City was at 11 degrees Fahrenheit. About 24 hours earlier it was -11. At Dallas Fort-Worth International Airport, the 7 a.m. temperature on Tuesday was -1. On Wednesday it settled at 20 F. San Antonio got above freezing Wednesday morning at around 8 a.m. local time when temps hovered in the low teens around the same time Tuesday. The city set a new daily record low of 12 F on Tuesday, breaking the previous record low of 16 set back in 1895. A winter storm warning is in effect as freezing rain has been reported around the metro area this morning.
Lincoln, Nebraska, set another daily record on Wednesday when the mercury dipped to -13. This broke the previous daily record for Feb. 17 of -10 from 1958. This might be considered an improvement for some, as the low on Tuesday in the city was -31 at 5:06 a.m. The previous daily record for Feb. 16, was -18 from 1978.
AccuWeather Broadcast Meteorologist Brittany Boyer showed a snapshot of the 24-hour temperature difference across the region at around 5:40 a.m. local time today. Check it out below.
Travel remains highly discouraged across Oklahoma, officials from the state’s Department of Transportation repeated on Wednesday morning as snow continues falling in the state. In Oklahoma City and Tulsa, reports of snow-packed roadways and icy overpasses have officials urging caution for morning commuters, KOCO reported, as the state has dealt with multiple accidents due to wintry conditions including a -14 F reading on Tuesday, its lowest temperature since 1899.
Snow is forecast to continue falling in Oklahoma City through Wednesday, with 3-6 inches of accumulation forecast for the capital city and up to 12 inches in other portions of the state. The temperature is currently 10 F with a RealFeel of 0 in the city.
Snow and ice spread across the southern Plains Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021.
The city of Galveston, Texas, has been placed under a "stage 5" water restriction due to major water line breaks and the loss of heating systems related to the widespread loss of power.
In the release from the city, people are being asked to limit showers to five minutes or less, landscape water is prohibited and flushing of water mains is not allowed unless there is an emergency. According to KPRC, once normal water usage is restored, the city will issue a boil water notice for residents to destroy any harmful bacteria.
On Tuesday, a new record was set for the highest percentage of the contiguous 48 states covered with snow. The new record of 73.2% beat the old record of 70.9% set on Jan. 12, 2011. A year ago at this time, snow only covered 35.5% of the contiguous states. Records for snow coverage in the U.S. have been kept since 2004.
The primary runway at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston has reopened, the airport announced on Twitter. After hundreds of flight cancellations due to the winter storm, the airport announced that flights would again be allowed to take off. While other airports in the area have also reopened, secondary runways at the Houston Intercontinental have not gone back into operation as of yet.
Texas has been transformed with a blanket of snow and a glaze of ice following a record-breaking winter storm that left many communities freezing and in the dark. The unprecedented coast-to-coast weather system sparked millions of power outages, accidents, wreaked havoc on air travel and even sparked a few tornadoes. As power outages surpassed 4.3 million in Texas, many Houstonians had to seek shelter from below-freezing temperatures to be able to get some rest inside a church warming center. Some Texas residents who aren’t accustomed to the single-digit temperatures were seen wrapped up in blankets walking outside in the snow.
Scroll through the gallery to see the winter storm’s impacts across Texas and the nation.
Extremely cold temperatures and the coronavirus pandemic have put a damper on Mardi Gras as an increase in demand for power has resulted in an overload of the power grid around New Orleans. Controlled outages have been authorized until midnight since the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) has instructed Cleco and Entergy to reduce demand on the power grid by beginning periodic outages to customers across Louisiana to help protect the stability of the power grid and prevent prolonged outages. Power outages have already started to trickle throughout New Orleans, with more than 24,000 Entergy customers without power as of 8 p.m. CDT.
The new storm taking shape over the southern Plains has arrived in Oklahoma City with the first flakes falling less than 44 hours since the last snowstorm departed the city. The snow came on heavy in Oklahoma City, quickly ramping up and limiting visibility to one-quarter of a mile, according to the official weather reports from Will Rogers World Airport.
This snow will compound issues across Oklahoma where they are still cleaning up from the last winter storm. In Tulsa, there have been dozens of water line breaks due to the extreme cold that have left some streets buried in ice. The snow that accumulates on top of this ice can be extremely dangerous as motorists will not be able to see when they are about to hit icy areas.
Millions of people across Texas have been without power for more than 24 hours and counting, and for some, power may not be restored until at least the end of the week. CenterPoint Energy, based in the Houston area, issued a press release late Tuesday afternoon addressing the extended outages. “Due to the continued issues with power generators’ ability to produce electricity, CenterPoint Energy’s customers need to be prepared to be without power, potentially for the duration of the generation shortage event, which could last several more days,” the statement said. The company was unable to give a timetable for when areas could expect power to be restored. Going days without power means that some Texans may not be able to heat their homes until after the cold snap is over and that any food that needs to be refrigerated will spoil.
High temperatures in Houston will struggle to reach 40 F on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday paired with overnight lows below freezing, according to the AccuWeather forecast. Warmer weather is not expected to return to the Houston area until Sunday when temperatures finally return to around 60 F, a benchmark not achieved in the city since Wednesday, Feb. 10.
Dallas is not forecast to have a temperature above the freezing mark until Friday. Same with Oklahoma City, which is forecast to remain in the 20s through Thursday, until temperatures finally nudge just above freezing on Friday. Omaha, Nebraska, which has been in the single digits or lower since Feb. 11, is not forecast to have a temperature in the 30s until Saturday, but it looks poised to finally get back above freezing on Sunday. Oklahoma City last had a high above freezing when the temperature hit 37 on Feb. 8. For Dallas, it was a week ago today when temperatures were last above the freezing point with a high of 39 on Feb. 9. A normal high for Oklahoma City and Dallas is around 55 and 60 F respectively for mid-February. Omaha reaches a high of 38 on average this time of year.
Cars drive by Michael Given as he stands at an intersection asking for money during a winter storm Sunday, Feb. 14, 2021, in Oklahoma City. Given said he is a restaurant worker who was laid off during the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
After a sustained cold blast that has sent temperatures well below normal across a huge swath of the country, as well as seemingly endless winter storms, some hope is on the horizon when it comes to warmer weather. AccuWeather meteorologists say a warmup, and a break from the stormy pattern, is possible during the final week of February. Forecasters expect Arctic air to retreat to "near and north of the Canada border later this month."
Sections of major highways are still packed with snow and ice in the Houston area and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has called in the heavy machinery to get the job done. Around midday Tuesday, the Houston District of TxDOT posted a video on Twitter showing motor grader in Montgomery County clearing snow from a highway. “Maintenance crews have gotten creative and are using loading machinery to move snow and to scrape ice off roadways since we’re not an area of Texas that typically has snow plows,” the department tweeted. Officials are warning Texans to remain patient and avoid travel unless it is an emergency. "We still cannot guarantee the safety of the roads. If you absolutely must drive, please stay off freeways and bridges, treat roads like a school zone, remember stoplights are down, and get to where you will stay tonight by late afternoon," Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said in a tweet. "Roads will worsen again." More work is still needed before the roads can be reopened, and the clock is ticking with another winter storm about to unfold.
The number of power outages across Texas has fallen from nearly 4 million to 3.1 million, according to data gathered by PowerOutage.us. This comes about six hours after ERCOT, the main power provider in Texas, said that some customers would see power restored as additional wind, solar and thermal power generation became available. However, Texans are not out of the woods yet. ERCOT has warned that more outages may occur this evening, but did not specify what locations would be impacted, WFAA reporter Jason Whitely said. Texas by far leads the nation in the number of outages in the wake of a major winter storm and extreme cold weather, having more outages than the rest of the U.S. combined.
Winter storm watches are being issued from the Ohio Valley to New England as a new storm gathers in the southern Plains. While this storm will dish another round of disruptive snow and ice to places such as Oklahoma and Texas, the highest snow accumulations are expected later in the week as the system tracks over the Northeast. This new storm could prove to be worse than the winter storm that swept over the region Monday into Tuesday. “This one looks a little colder and the track [will be] a little farther east, which means accumulating snow,” AccuWeather Chief On-Air Meteorologist Bernie Rayno said. A general 6 to 12 inches of forecast to fall from the eastern Panhandle of West Virginia to the coast of Maine. This includes Harrisburg and Scranton, Pennsylvania; Albany and Binghamton, New York; Portland, Maine; and Boston. The higher elevations in this zone have the potential to reach the AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 24 inches.
Missouri Governor Mike Parson announced that due to extreme winter weather in the area, all COVID-19 mass vaccination events have shut down until Feb. 19. The shutdown is to ensure the interest of safety due to winter weather, according to a press release. Vaccine shipments will also be delayed due to the conditions. “Missouri is experiencing severe winter weather that makes driving dangerous and threatens the health and safety of anyone exposed to the cold," Parson said. Every effort is being made to reschedule the vaccine events and individuals who registered are encouraged to find other vaccinators in the region for the time being. AccuWeather has been following a severe winter storm that has impacted several states, including Missouri, this week.
After one of the coldest nights in decades, temperatures in Texas have risen into the teens and 20s for many areas. At 2 p.m. CST Tuesday, the temperature in Dallas was 18 F, more than 40 degrees lower than the average high temperature for mid-February. It was still in the single digits in Oklahoma City after the city bottomed out at -14 F early Tuesday morning. "This is the coldest official OKC temperature recorded since February 12, 1899," the National Weather Service office in Norman, Oklahoma, said. Even in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas, residents were bundled up as the icy grip of Old Man Winter chilled the region in the wake of the recent storm. Click here to view AccuWeather’s interactive temperature map for North America.
Eye-popping photos of the situation unfolding at citrus groves in the southernmost reaches of Texas emerged Tuesday. Images obtained by AccuWeather showed grapefruit trees encased in ice as temperatures near the Texas-Mexico bordered plunged to as low as 22 degrees Sunday into Monday. AccuWeather spoke to some growers in the region about whether this will constitute a disaster for the local industry. Texas is the third-largest citrus-producing state in the U.S. and growers have seen harsh winter weather in 1983, 1989 and as recently as 2011. This brutal cold snap follows crop damages caused over the summer by Hurricane Hanna, which were estimated to total $100 million.
Snow has arrived in Lubbock, Texas, and is slowly advancing eastward toward Abilene as the next winter storm takes shape in the Lone Star State. Around midday Tuesday, the snow, sleet and freezing rain was a small area around the Texas Panhandle and Great Plains of Texas; however, the shield of wintry precipitation is forecast to grow and expand into Tuesday night.
The worst of the storm in Texas is likely to occur between Tuesday night and Thursday afternoon as snow blankets Dallas and disruptive ice glazes Austin, Houston and San Angelo. "This time, at least, ice and snow are not forecast to occur quite as far to the south in the Central states," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson said. After hitting the southern Plains, the storm will head toward the Great Lakes and Northeast with widespread accumulating snow.
A number of longtime record lows have fallen by the wayside today as extremely cold Arctic air hangs around the middle of the country. In Oklahoma City, the temperature dropped to -14 Tuesday morning. That is the lowest official temperature recorded in the city since Feb. 12, 1899 when the mercury reached -17. Farther south, Dallas set a new daily record of -2, breaking the previous record of 12 F from 1903. It is also the coldest it's been at the official Dallas/Fort Worth climate site since Jan. 31, 1949. The -2 reading also is tied for the second coldest minimum temperature in city history. "The only colder minimum temperature to be recorded is the all-time record low of -8 F on February 12, 1899," the NWS Fort Worth office said on Twitter. At Waco Regional Airport, the low temperature of -1 broke the previous daily record of 16 F from 2007. It's the lowest reading at the official Waco climate site since December 23, 1989, the NWS said.
Elsewhere Lincoln, Nebraska, reached -31 at 5:06 a.m. Tuesday morning. This is a new daily record for Feb. 16, breaking the city's prior mark of -18 from 1978. It's also just the second time Lincoln has hit -30 or lower since 1887, when the temperature reached -33 on Jan. 12, 1974.
Maintenance workers plow and remove fresh fallen snow Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021, in the Bronzville neighborhood of Chicago, after an overnight storm dumped up to 18.5 inches. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
More than a foot of snow greeted residents in Illinois this morning, including the Chicago area, where more than 17 inches were measured at the city's Midway International Airport early Tuesday from a snow event that began on Valentine's Day. Meanwhile, Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, located northwest of downtown Chicago, has totaled about 7.5 inches since Sunday. One of the key factors in the different totals is that heavy lake-effect snow poured over Midway Airport, while O'Hare was just to the west of the heavier snow, and is located farther away from Lake Michigan. This lake-effect snow was in addition to a winter storm that moved through the area on Tuesday. A stiff breeze out of the north-northeast helped produce the lake-effect. Less than 50% of Lake Michigan is currently covered in ice.
The National Weather Service in Chicago said the city has had measurable snow at O'Hare on nine consecutive days, tying a record for consecutive days with measurable snow previously set on Feb. 3-11, 2018. With more snow on the way for the Midwest, Chicago could end up breaking that record on Wednesday.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced on Monday that the state is deploying maximum resources to local officials throughout the state as a massive effort to restore power to communities continues. The National Guard has been deployed across the state to help conduct welfare checks and transition residents in need to one of the 135 local warming centers that have opened up. More than 3,000 state troopers have also been out responding to adverse weather conditions. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has been limited "by the ability of private power generators of all sources, including natural gas, wind, and solar, to generate power for the grid," according to a statement issued by Abbott's office.
“Due to the severe weather and freezing temperatures across our state, many power companies have been unable to generate power, whether it’s from coal, natural gas, or wind power,” said Abbott. “ERCOT and the [Public Utility Commission] are working non-stop to restore power supply. The state has also deployed resources to assist Texans without power and to help essential workers continue to carry out their jobs. In the meantime, I encourage all Texans to continue to stay off the roads, and conserve energy as state agencies work with private providers to restore power as quickly as possible.”
The enormous size of the power outages, which totaled more than 4.3 million at around 9:30 a.m. local time, has been compared to the catastrophic Hurricane Harvey, which blasted the southeastern part of the state in August 2017.“This is essentially the ice and snow equivalent of [Hurricane] Harvey across the entire state,” Andrew Barlow, a spokesperson for the state PUC, told KXAN in Austin. Watch the video below for more on how the winter storm is impacting the Houston area.
On the latest edition of AccuWeather's Weather Insider podcast, AccuWeather Chief On-Air Meteorologist Bernie Rayno reviews some of the low temperatures recorded across the Plains, and details the looming threat from another winter storm for the central and eastern U.S. Give it a listen below.
A house fire claimed the lives of a grandmother and three children in Sugar Land, Texas, early Tuesday, according to KHOU 11 News in Houston. Officials responded to the fire around 2 a.m. local time and found the children's mother and her friend outside the home. Both had suffered burn injuries. According to KHOU 11, the neighborhood where the fire occurred was without power for about eight hours at the time of the blaze. Houston Police also responded to a deadly carbon monoxide incident early Tuesday after a family had been trying to keep warm inside their car in an attached garage. The police said an adult female and young girl were killed while an adult male and young boy were hospitalized.
Millions of Americans woke up to power outages Tuesday morning after winter weather took its toll on power lines, affecting how people will be able to respond to any snow or ice going forward. In Texas, where over 4 million people were without power, boil water orders were issued in parts of Forth Worth into Monday night due to power outages at a water treatment plant. In areas such as Oklahoma City, power companies are scheduling outages, and Tuesday morning, Southwest Power Pool, based in Little Rock, Arkansas, declared an Energy Emergency Alert Level 3 for its entire 14-state balancing authority area, which stretches primarily from Arkansas to New Mexico to North Dakota.
Texas: More than 4 million
Kentucky; More than 148,000
West Virginia: More than 104,000
Virginia: More than 77,000
Louisiana: More than 76,000
Oklahoma: More than 57,000
Emergency responders had a historically busy day on Monday in the Austin, Texas, area. The Austin-Travis Country EMS' communications staff responded to 1,435 calls for service. Of those, 93 were related to people falling, while 13 were reportedly due to carbon monoxide exposure. Four toxic exposure calls were responded to by the ATC EMS and the Austin Fire Department as a result of residents using charcoal in their homes to stay warm. "This is extremely dangerous and can quickly lead to death from [carbon monoxide] poisoning, the fire department said. The fire department said earlier on Monday that it responded to three working structure fires that were all related to fires that started around a resident's fireplace. Millions remain without power in Texas as one of the harshest cold snaps in decades grips the entire state.
A look at the temperatures across Texas shortly before 7:30 a.m. local time Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021.
Increased energy demand across parts of the southern Plains not only triggered rolling blackouts in Oklahoma and Texas, but an increase in crude oil prices. According to CNBC, West Texas Intermediate crude prices were above $60 a barrel for the first time since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. Brent Crude, which is an international benchmark, reached $63.26, CNBC said.
“The refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast will undoubtedly be severely affected by the extreme cold,” AccuWeather founder and CEO Joel N. Myers said. “In 1989, the last time it got this cold [along the Texas Gulf Coast], the refineries froze and the price of heating oil more than doubled.”
A likely tornado tore through portions of far southern North Carolina just after midnight EST and caused "devastating damage" to many homes and buildings in Brunswick County. In a press conference held shortly after 4:30 a.m. EST, the Brunswick County Sheriff's Office confirmed that at least three people had been killed and at least 10 others had been injured.
John Ingram, the Brunswick County Sheriff, went on to say that the damage is "like nothing [he has] seen before" and urged non-residents to stay out of the area. At least 50 buildings were damaged by the storm.
Firefighters can be seen amidst debris in Brunswick County, NC, early Tuesday morning after a likely tornado. (Brunswick County Sheriff's Office)
As the powerful winter storm winds down across much of the Southern states and places its bulls-eye on the Northeast early Tuesday morning, a clearer picture of just how potent the storm has come into view.
Freezing rain caused major travel difficulties for the start of the week from Texas to the Appalachians. As AccuWeather forecasters accurately predicted, the worst of the icing targeted Kentucky and parts of Tennessee. A whopping 0.75 inches of ice was measured in Frenchburg, KY, on Monday. Typically any amount of ice greater than 0.25 inches is enough to begin weighing down tree limbs and power lines. Double or even triple that amount is enough to cause widespread power outages and extremely hazardous, even deadly, travel. As of 4 a.m. EST, nearly 150,000 customers were still without power in Kentucky alone. According to local news sources, at least 5 people in Kentucky died as a result of weather-related traffic accidents early this week.
Citrus farms in Texas, which is the third-largest citrus producing state behind California and Florida, are facing a brutal beating from the combination of the excessively low temperatures and wind. “We will no doubt lose some of the crop as we are seeing some ice build-up inside the fruit. But it will take a couple of weeks to really evaluate,” Dale Murden, the president of Texas Citrus Mutual told AccuWeather Executive Editor Andrew Tavani in an interview. The ongoing cold temperatures and wind foils growers’ ability to protect the fruit. According to Murden, if temperatures are below 28 degrees for more than 5 hours they will begin to freeze inside. “The wind was blowing so hard last night most measures to warm trees up couldn’t work,” Murden said. The citrus crops faced temperatures as low as 21 degrees for several hours, with more freezing tonight as well as early Friday morning.
While the northern side of a powerful winter storm unleashes snow and ice across the eastern half of the United States, severe weather continues to spawn on the southern side.
Shortly after 12 a.m. EST Tuesday, a possible tornado was reported to have caused extensive damage in Brunswick County, North Carolina. The Brunswick County Emergency Management office reported structural damage to homes and residents trapped under the rubble. There were also reports of downed power lines in along US Highway 17. No fatalities have been officially confirmed.
As of 2 a.m. EST, at least 35,000 customers are currently without power in Brunswick County as a result of these storms, according to PowerOutage.us.
Ongoing power outages across the state of Texas have many residents hunkering down for a very cold Monday night. In addition to lack of access to heating, some residents have lost their access to running water due to widespread power outages.
Abilene, Texas, struggled to keep its three water treatment plants online as power flicked on and off for much of the day Monday. In a press release Monday afternoon, the City of Abilene urged water customers to "curtail water use immediately" and limit all "non-essential water usage."
By late Monday afternoon, the situation quickly grew more urgent as only, "2 to 3 hours of treated water capacity" remained, according to the City of Abilene.
By Monday evening, all three water treatment plants used by the city of Abilene, Texas, fully lost power and there was no longer running water available in Abilene.
In a press conference Monday night, the Director of Water Utilities for the City of Abilene, Rodney Taylor, explained that a "region-wide failure of the system" had rendered useless any built-in redundancies in case of a power outage used to keep at least one treatment plant online at all times. "There's really not anything we can do right now to remedy [the] situation," Taylor said.
Abilene, Texas, is home to nearly 125,000 residents.
Late Monday afternoon, the National Weather Service office in Tallahassee, Florida, urged residents of a Georgia town to seek immediate shelter when an "extremely dangerous tornado" was confirmed to be on the ground northeast of Damascus, Georgia.
As AccuWeather reported earlier Monday evening, there have been no reports of fatalities. However, a local emergency management office has confirmed at least one person was injured when the tornado damaged several homes near Damascus.
On Monday night, the NWS confirmed that a team will be sent out to survey the extensive damage on Tuesday and determine a rating on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, more commonly known as the EF Scale for Monday afternoon's tornado.
Mother Nature will largely cooperate as residents begin cleanup efforts on Tuesday. An area of high pressure will build over the Southeast, allowing dry conditions with some sunshine to prevail.
As the massive winter storm plows eastward with heavy snowfall, ice will be a major threat near the system's center. AccuWeather meteorologists expect widespread ice accumulations of 0.25 to 0.50 of an inch with an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 1 inch. The greatest risk for heavy icing is expected to be from central and western Tennessee northward into West Virginia then eastward across northern Virginia, Maryland and parts of southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Suburbs of Philadelphia, New York City and Boston could also face heavier ice accumulations. "We are very concerned about the risk for widespread and long-term power outages as a result of significant ice from Texas northeast to the mid-Atlantic. Ice storms are bad enough, but ice storms in the South followed by dangerous cold could become a life-threatening crisis," Jon Porter, AccuWeather senior vice president of forecasting, said.
Temperatures are falling across the southern Plains in the wake of the winter storm, and this is creating major issues for those still left in the dark. More than 3.7 million electricity customers are without power across Texas, over 110,000 in Louisiana and another 50,000 in Mississippi. according to PowerOutage.us. Families that cannot heat their homes without power are gearing up for a frigid night with temperatures already in the lower 20s and teens for many areas. Some spots farther north in Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri have already dipped below 0 F and will drop even further into Monday night. Gas-powered generators can be a temporary fix, but people are reminded to keep the generator outside where it is in a well-ventilated area to avoid the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Houston is forecast to reach 10 F early Tuesday morning before daybreak, which if reached, would break the daily record of 13 F that was set more than a century ago in 1895. Dallas has a shot at dropping below 0 F, a benchmark that has not been reached in the Dallas-Fort Worth area since 1989. Some people have gotten creative to cope with the extremely low temperatures, including Austin, Texas, resident Sarah Asch, who tweeted a picture of an all-season tent that she set up in her living room to help keep warm without heat.
Following an early-week outburst of snow and ice across the south-central United States, another round of wintry weather is forecast to reach parts of northern Texas and Oklahoma as early as Tuesday afternoon. AccuWeather meteorologists expect the new cross-country storm to produce a swath of snow and ice along a 2,000-mile-long stretch from Texas to Maine during the middle and latter part of this week. "Winter is alive and well, unfortunately, and it’s going to be another busy week,” AccuWeather Chief On-Air Meteorologist Bernie Rayno said, adding that heavy amounts of snow and ice with the next storm are expected in the same general areas that were pounded by the early-week storm.
The winter storm has shuttered many COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites, but at one university, students and staff are braving the conditions to get a suddenly-available vaccine. At Rice University, officials said 1,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine were issued to the school but must be used by 5 p.m. local time. With distribution plans thwarted by the storm, the university has said any students or staff members can receive a dose on a first-come, first-serve basis, according to the Laredo Morning Times. School officials have urged members of the community not to drive to campus for the vaccine, stressing the dangerous road conditions.
Elsewhere in the state, vaccination and testing sites in Houston were forced to close on Sunday and the Houston Health Department said sites will remain closed until at least Wednesday.
Snow is falling from St. Louis to Cleveland, and the snow is causing disruptions for travelers heading home after a day at work. Major highways are covered with snow around Indianapolis, including Interstate 465 near exit 40. All four lanes of traffic are moving at a snail’s pace on the snow-packed road, according to traffic cameras operated by the Indiana Department of Transportation. As of 5 p.m. EST, gusty winds were causing the heavy snow to blow around, as well as contribute to an AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperature of 15 F below zero.
Traffic on I-465 northeast of Indianapolis was backed up during the evening commute on Feb. 15, 2021 as heavy snow fell across the region. (Indiana Department of Transportation)
The number of power outages across the central and eastern U.S. continues to climb with more than 4 million customers without power, according to PowerOutage.us. An overwhelming majority of the outages are in Texas with the Lone Star State accounting for 3.7 million of the current outages. The number of outages in other states, including those across the Ohio Valley and the mid-Atlantic, could climb through Monday night as snow, sleet and freezing rain spreads northeastward.
Although power outages in Oklahoma are currently at a minimal, that number could spike in the coming hours. According to KOCO News, OG&E, which provides electricity to Oklahoma and parts of western Arkansas, began initiating temporary blackouts to prevent the power grid from becoming overwhelmed. It's the first time in the power company's history such a measure has been deployed. Meanwhile, the Southwest Power Pool, which provides power to other parts of Oklahoma, implemented "controlled interruptions of service" in response to what is described as an "unprecedented event."
Crews work to restore power in Ada Valley, Arkansas, amid snowy conditions on Feb. 15, 2021. (Twitter/@gunner_kendrick)
While the worst of the current storm has come in the form of snow, sleet, freezing rain and record-challenging low temperatures, it has also sparked severe thunderstorms. On Monday afternoon, a possible tornado tracked through part of Damascus, Georgia, leaving behind a trail of damage. There have been no reports of fatalities, but cleanup may take some time in the neighborhoods where the tornado touched down. The National Weather Service office based in Tallahassee, Florida, will conduct a damage survey later this week to determine the rating of the tornado.
NOAA’s GOES-East weather satellite captured these views of the winter storm on Monday afternoon as the worst of the storm hit the Ohio and Tennessee valleys. In the visible satellite loop, which shows the view from space as it would appear to the naked eye, it is hard to tell the clouds apart from the fresh snow that is blanketing the Plains in the wake of the storm. However, when using the satellite’s infrared instruments, the storm can easily be seen as it advances eastward. Click here to view AccuWeather’s interactive RealVue™ Satellite tool.
As the sun rose over Texas on Monday morning, residents that braved the elements and stepped outside experienced weather that felt colder than some parts of Alaska. At 8 a.m. CST, the mercury in Houston hovered around 17 F, one degree lower than what was reported in Anchorage, Alaska, at the same time. Farther inland across Texas, temperatures bottomed out well below zero with significantly lower AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures due to a biting wind from the north. At 3:40 a.m. CST, Amarillo, Texas, experienced an AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperature of 31 degrees below zero. For comparison, the lowest RealFeel temperature registered in frigid Fairbanks, Alaska, early Monday morning was 22 degrees below zero. This is cold even for Fairbanks' standards, but is not quite as brutal as it was in the remote Alaskan town one week ago when the temperature plummeted to within a degree of 40 degrees below zero.
Heavy snow, sleet and freezing rain has tapered off across the southern Plains, but another storm is on the way. As for the current storm system, ice and snow will continue to spread across parts of the central and southern Mississippi Valley into the Ohio Valley into Monday night. Heavy ice accumulation can occur and result in power outages from Louisiana to Kentucky and Tennessee. Snowfall rates of 1 inch per hour can occur from eastern Arkansas to the Ohio Valley, AccuWeather meteorologists say.
The AccuWeather radar shows the progress of the storm through early Monday afternoon.
Snow is expected to reach parts of the Northeast on Monday and continue into Monday night. Forecasters expect snow to be heavy at times from western Pennsylvania and western New York to northern New England. AccuWeather meteorologists expect sleet and freezing rain to fall across central and southern Pennsylvania into parts of central and southern New England. Freezing rain can occur in a stretch of the I-95 corridor from New York City to Boston early Monday night before it transitions over to rain by daybreak.
Sunday’s massive snowstorm broke multiple all-time, single-day records in Texas, according to the National Weather Service. The cities of San Angelo and Abilene both saw all-time maximum snow total records broken, as Abilene reported more than 14 inches and San Angelo barely topped 10 inches with an official report of 10.1. The previous all-time record at Abilene was set on April 5, 1996 when 9.3 inches fell. Meanwhile, San Angelo's previous all-time high was 10 inches that occurred Jan. 16, 1919.
At Midland International Airport, over 5 inches were recorded, the first time the city had ever recorded more than a trace of snow on Feb. 14. Farther north, Oklahoma City tied its daily maximum snowfall of 6 inches.
All flights at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport were canceled on Monday due to ice and snow, the airport announced on Twitter. "Our teams remain on site, mitigating the impacts of this historic weather," airport officials said. The airport will continue to monitor conditions and work to remove snow and ice in order to possibly resume flights on Tuesday. Austin has picked up at least 5 inches so far from the storm. In Houston, George Bush Intercontinental Airport has closed its airfield until at least 1 p.m. local time today, officials said. At that time, the airport teams will reassess the airfield conditions and provide an update. The Federal Aviation Administration said flights into Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport were subject to a ground delay by an average of 34 minutes. The Dallas-Fort Worth area has received around 3-5 inches of snow since Sunday.
The FAA said Baton Rouge Metropolitan, Ryan Field Airport in Louisiana was closed until Tuesday. The earliest it could reopen is 12 p.m. on Feb. 16. In Jackson, Mississippi, Jackson International Airport is also closed. The earliest that the airport is scheduled to reopen is 11 p.m. CST Tuesday.
Hundreds of calls for emergency medical services were already fielded by midday on Monday, according to MedStar EMS, which serves Fort Worth and 14 other cities in Northern Texas. The 201 calls answered by around 11:30 CT were up 36.7% from the same timeframe the previous Monday. Dozens of the calls were related to power outages gripping the state amid a deep freeze in which temperatures had plummeted into the single digits and even below zero across the northern tier of the state. Emergencies included patients whose oxygen machines had stopped working due to the power outage, and 19 patients were treated for hypothermia, according to MedStar EMS Alerts on Twitter.
Over 2 million Texans had to start their cold Monday mornings without power and a plethora of frozen wind turbines is a large reason why. The turbines, many of which are located on wind farms in the western and northern portions of the state, ground to a halt this weekend by the unseasonably cold and moist winter conditions from the storm. According to Statesman.com, wind power generated 23% of all energy in Texas in 2020, the second-largest energy source after natural gas.
Mother Nature transformed the coastline of Texas on Monday, making it look more like a white sand beach following rare coastal snow. Residents in Galveston, Texas, that bundled up and trekked through the wintry weather to the Gulf Coast were shocked to see snow covering the beach all the way up to where the waves were crashing ashore. A road that ran parallel to the beach was also mostly covered with snow, making for slippery travel for motorists driving to see the spectacle. The AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperature fluttered around the zero-degree mark in Galveston as the sun rose, and at 7:41 a.m. CST, bottomed out at 3 below zero F.
AccuWeather meteorologists warn that severe thunderstorms could erupt in warmer air along the southern edge of the storm late Monday and Monday night. Some of the thunderstorms that will ignite across northern and central Florida, southern and central Georgia and perhaps as far to the north as the eastern parts of the Carolinas could turn severe and spawn strong wind gusts, flash flooding and the potential for a few isolated tornadoes. In the strongest storms, winds may be strong enough to knock over trees and lead to power outages. "A small number of the strongest storms could produce a brief tornado, especially from northern Florida to southern Georgia," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson said. Colder air will surge southward and shut down the severe weather risks across much of the Southeast on Tuesday, but a few severe thunderstorms could still erupt across southern Florida.
Cars drive by Michael Given as he stands at an intersection asking for money during a winter storm Sunday, Feb. 14, 2021, in Oklahoma City. Given said he is a restaurant worker who was laid off due to the coronavirus, and needs the money to pay for a hotel for himself an his wife for another night. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Places across the southern Plains may have felt a little like southern Siberia on Monday morning, with temperatures below zero in several parts of Oklahoma and AccuWeather RealFeel temps an astonishing 35 to 40 degrees below zero. El Reno, which is about 30 miles west of Oklahoma City and has a population of about 16,000, had a RealFeel of -40 on Monday morning. The RealFeel in Oklahoma City made it down to "only" -35. But just 1,200 miles away to the south and east, the folks in Weston, Florida, were enjoying partly sunny skies and an AccuWeather RealFeel of 95 degrees. Weston is about 40 miles northwest of Miami and the people there probably send their sympathies to those dealing with the cold, snow and ice in Oklahoma.
A distance of 1,200 miles made for a 135-degree AccuWeather RealFeel differential on early on Monday, Feb. 15, 2021. El Reno, Oklahoma, saw the RealFeel temperature reach -40. Meanwhile, in Weston, Florida, the AccuWeather RealFeel Temperature soared to 95. (AccuWeather)
The Arctic blast currently gripping much of the United States has toppled numerous longstanding cold records, including some that date back more than 100 years. North Platte, Nebraska, reached a brutally cold -29 F Monday morning, breaking the previous record of -23 from 1881. In San Antonio and Austin, Texas, the temperature dipped into the single digits, as daily record lows of 9 and 8 were recorded in each city. The prior record in Austin for Feb. 15, was 20 while the previous in San Antonio was 21. Both were previously established in 1909. Oklahoma City dropped below zero to set a daily record low of -6, smashing the longstanding record of 7 that was also set in 1909. AccuWeather meteorologists say much of the central U.S. will continue to experience record lows 20-40 degrees below normal through Monday night.
At least four states across the central and southern U.S. have issued state of emergency declarations due to the potent winter storm and widespread cold blast. Oklahoma, Alabama, Texas, and Kansas have each instituted a full or partial emergency declaration due to the hazardous risk of wintry weather. After declaring a state of emergency on Friday, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt provided an update on Sunday. “State and local crews are working around-the-clock to clear the roads as quickly as possible,” said Stitt. “Please stay home if you can to allow them to work more effectively and consider lowering your thermostat to 68 degrees or cooler and avoid using large appliances like your washer and dryer. Oklahomans take pride in helping their neighbors and we can make a big difference by taking a few small steps together.”
Vehicles work to clear an intersection during a winter storm Sunday, Feb. 14, 2021, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a statewide state of emergency covering all 245 counties in the Lone Star State on Friday. On Sunday, he announced that the White House issued a federal emergency declaration for the state. “I thank President Biden for quickly issuing a Federal Emergency Declaration for Texas as we continue to respond to severe winter weather conditions throughout the state,” said Abbott. “This disaster declaration provides Texas with additional resources and assistance that will help our communities respond to this winter weather."
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly said she issued a state of emergency on Sunday due to the Arctic blast and the stress the cold was putting on utility and natural gas providers. “As the extreme cold temperatures continue to affect the region, we are urging Kansans to conserve energy in order to help ensure a continued supply of natural gas and electricity and keep their own personal costs down,” Kelly said.
One of the busiest weather patterns in decades is making its presence felt across nearly the entire United States. The National Weather Service reports that more than 150 million Americans are currently facing either a winter storm warning, ice storm warning, winter storm watch or winter weather advisory. The bulk of those are currently in the form of winter storm warnings, which stretch all the way from the Texas-Mexico border to the Maine-Canada border. And the hits will just keep on coming. Snow and ice will continue to pile up in the Northeast, as another storm is poised to travel across the nation's midsection during the middle of the week.
Winter storm warnings (dark blue) stretched from Texas to Maine on Monday, Feb. 15, 2021.