AUSTIN, Texas – More than 230,000 homes and businesses across the state were without power on Wednesday and more than 1,800 flights were canceled as a relentless streak of severe weather, freezing temperatures and freezing temperatures killed at least six people.
Now in its third day, the winter weather system has swept from Minnesota and New York to the heartland of Texas. Accidents on slippery roads were reported throughout the week in Texas, Arkansas and states in the region. In Travis County, Texas, officials said Tuesday they were responding to a new crash every three minutes.
In parts of Minnesota, a wind chill warning was in effect Wednesday morning, with wind chills dropping to minus 35 degrees. Officials warned the condition could cause frostbite in as little as 10 minutes.
► Winter storm warnings are also in effect for east-central, southeastern and southern Oklahoma through Thursday.
►New York’s LaGuardia Airport was grounded for the second morning in a row due to cold weather.
What is air cooling? Learn about the wind chill index and how it is calculated
Winter storm warnings continue for parts of Texas
The National Weather Service in Fort Worth warned that an ice storm warning was in place for parts of north and central Texas through Thursday morning as freezing rain and sleet are expected across much of the region. The weather service warned that “severe” icing was expected, with accumulations of up to a half-inch possible.
Some winter storm warnings are due to lift by midday on Wednesday, the Bureau of Meteorology said. But with the potential for power outages and tree damage due to icy conditions in the area, officials warned drivers to keep an extra flashlight, food and water in their vehicles.
“The state of Texas is working around the clock to keep Texans safe and warm during this severe winter of weather and flooding,” the governor said. Greg Abbott said. “Texans are urged to remain weather aware and stay off the road as much as possible.”
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Austin struggles with power outages, more ice coming
Earlier Wednesday, more than a third of Texas power outages were in the Austin area. While temperatures in Austin could reach 33 degrees for a few hours in the afternoon, forecasters are warning that the wind chill will continue into the mid-20s.
The Austin area could see 0.1 to 0.25 inches of extra ice Wednesday, the National Weather Service said. The ice has the potential to turn to rain in the afternoon and into the evening, however, forecasters expect the freezing rain to continue again in the evening and into early Thursday morning.
Ice storm warning extended for Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee
Ice storm warnings also remained in place through Thursday for parts of eastern Arkansas, northern Mississippi and western Tennessee. Up to one-half inch of sleet could accumulate.
Officials warned that travel conditions could continue to be difficult in the coming days. Interstate 40 was covered in ice in parts of Arkansas on Tuesday.
Polar vortex moves northeast
AccuWeather meteorologists predict strong arctic air will hit the Northeast later this week.
Temperatures in Boston are expected to drop to minus 10 degrees by Saturday morning.
In parts of Maine, temperatures could drop to minus 28 degrees this weekend.
What is a polar vortex? Get an in-depth look at how it affects winter weather in the United States.
What is Lake Effect Snow?Here’s how it happens and how much snow it can bring.
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Contribution: Associated Press