A winter storm brought a triple threat of ice, sleet and snow to parts of the South and Central United States on Tuesday, prompting officials to close roads and schools as they urged people to avoid traveling in hazardous conditions.
Some 38 million people from Texas and Oklahoma to Kentucky and West Virginia in the Far East are under various forms of winter weather warnings, including warnings of dangerous ice accumulation, and roads are forecast to be a nightmare.
“In addition to potentially hazardous travel conditions, this amount of ice could cause tree damage and power outages in the hardest-hit areas,” the National Weather Service warned in Monday’s forecast.
By early Tuesday, freezing rain was being reported in the south, with ice accumulating up to half an inch in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Here’s what to expect throughout the day:
- Oklahoma City will experience brief icing Tuesday morning, while the afternoon will bring significant icing to central Texas, central Arkansas and western Tennessee.
- Texas will face widespread icy conditions, with the heaviest snow accumulation likely Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday morning. Drivers in Dallas, San Antonio and Austin could encounter dangerous road conditions.
- Residents of Oklahoma City were issued a winter weather warning Wednesday afternoon, with ice up to two-tenths of an inch expected.
- Louisville, Kentucky could also see up to two-tenths of an inch of ice, while Charleston, West Virginia could see up to an inch of sleet and a tenth of an inch of ice.
- The first wave of freezing rain will begin to weaken as it moves toward West Virginia in the late morning.
In Texas, the governor asked the state’s emergency management agency to increase resources to be ready by Thursday.
Several school districts in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and Austin were closed Tuesday, and more than 400 flights from Texas airports were canceled. Some roads in Texas were closed due to icy conditions, according to the state’s Department of Transportation.
In Arkansas, the governor declared a state of emergency on Monday and activated the state’s National Guard’s winter weather support unit, ready to help with the storm.
“I encourage Arkansans who are experiencing winter weather to avoid travel if possible and to heed warnings from local officials,” the governor said.Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted.
The emergency order directs $250,000 to be used at the discretion of the head of the state’s Division of Emergency Management to fund planning and administrative expenses, the order said.
“The real enemy will be the ice,” Dave Parker says, a spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Transportation. “It could be a very dangerous situation.”
Much of the state, which is dealing with most major roads, is expected to be affected, Parker added.
The storm will hit the south and central regions in a wave on Wednesday.
While the forecast is for a period of easing over the next two days, roads are likely to be very slick throughout the storm as temperatures remain cold.
Tuesday is expected to be the toughest day for driving as bridges and roads in Texas freeze, according to the Fort Worth office of the Weather Service.
“More widespread freezing rain/sleet is expected on Tuesday and Wednesday morning and the impact on travel will worsen during this time,” the local weather agency said.
Roads in Austin, San Angelo and Dallas are expected to see about half an inch of severe icing. And San Antonio could see up to a tenth of an inch of ice.
Meanwhile, the Texas Power Reliability Council, the main power provider in Texas, told CNN it will be able to meet residents’ needs as temperatures plummet.
“We expect to generate enough electricity this week to meet forecast demand and will continue to monitor the forecast. We are not claiming protection at this time. We are informing the public to contact their local power provider if they… experience a power outage, ’ the agency said in an email.
In Dyer County, Tennessee, icy weather caused officials to close the Interstate 155 bridge, according to reports. highway patrol.