Widespread ice storm leaves at least 10 people dead, more than 550 000 without power, U.S.
A significant widespread ice storm is still affecting parts of the U.S. South and Mid-South on Thursday, February 2, 2023, but it’s now slowly transitioning to rain. Despite this, the risk remains high as melting ice may still trigger the breakage of trees and tree limbs. Meanwhile, a life-threatening Arctic blast is moving towards the northeastern regions of the country, with wind chills expected to be the coldest in recent memory.
The storm has left at least 10 people dead in Texas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma, and two seriously injured police officers, as of Thursday, February 2. The number of casualties has risen from 8 reported on Wednesday night.
The deaths include a triple fatality Tuesday, January 31 near Brownfield, about 64 km (40 miles) southwest of Lubbock, TX. In Austin, a person was killed in a pileup on Tuesday, and in Oklahoma, two people died in separate crashes on Thursday morning and a semi-truck driver was killed with a second person seriously injured in Custer County. In Arkansas, a 60-year-old driver was killed when their flatbed truck hauling equipment lost control and flipped over.1
As of 19:00 UTC on February 2, more than 550 000 customers are Texas to Tennessee are without power, primarily due to downed power lines and trees. Of those, 440 000 in Texas, 82 000 in Arkansas, 24 000 in Tennessee, and 23 000 in Mississippi.
Officials are urging customers who are experiencing power outages to contact their local providers, with Austin Energy warning that some areas may be without power until Friday.
The restoration efforts are being hampered by the accumulated ice and freezing temperatures.
The storm has also caused flight cancellations, with just under 670 flights within, to, and from the U.S. canceled as of Thursday, with the majority of cancellations being related to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.
The prolonged and damaging ice storm that has impacted a large region from Texas to Tennessee over the past couple of days is forecast to finally come to an end today, February 2, as a final surge of moisture slides eastward.2
Continued hazardous travel conditions can be expected, especially over untreated roadways. Added tree damage and subsequent power outages are also possible before melting begins to commence this afternoon.
Above-zero temperatures will return on Friday, February 3, likely eliminating any icy concerns. Elsewhere, as the system exits over the Southeast, steady rain is likely today from the Lower Mississippi Valley to the Southeast. Isolated flooding concerns are possible given the wet antecedent conditions.
The next impulse of arctic air to sweep into the Nation from Canada is forecast to impact the northern Plains and Upper Midwest today. Wind chills could become dangerously cold and drop to as low as -45 °C (-50 °F).
Areas with fresh snow cover could also experience brief whiteout conditions as gusty winds accompany the arctic front.
By Friday, the frigid temperatures are forecast to engulf the Northeast and northern Mid-Atlantic.
The core of the cold will pass over the Northeast and more specifically, northern New England.
Wind chills around -45 °C (-50 °F) for northern parts of this region could be the coldest felt in decades. The lowest temperatures are expected to occur on Saturday, with single-digit readings extending as far south as Pennsylvania, while sub-zero lows will be widespread throughout New England.
Snow squalls and lake effect snow is also likely along and behind the cold front Thursday night into Friday, which could briefly lead to lowering visibility and treacherous travel.
Wind Chill Warnings have been issued to further highlight the dangerous cold. Residents and visitors are urged to limit time outdoors and wear proper clothing. These wind chills could cause frostbite on exposed skin in as little as 10 minutes.
1 LIVE: Death toll climbs, power outages remain rampant during southern US ice storm – AccuWeather – February 2, 2023
2 Short Range Forecast Discussion – NWS Weather Prediction Center College Park MD – 252 AM EST Thu Feb 02 2023
Featured image credit: TxDOTFortWorth
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