Rare snowfall blankets Texas and Oklahoma
(CNN)A winter storm that has pummeled much of the United States will move through the Northeast on Tuesday, leaving a trail of destruction across some states unaccustomed to such harsh weather.
The low-pressure system has had a deadly impact: At least 15 people have died in weather-related vehicle accidents since the cold temperatures set in. In Oklahoma alone, 123 people were in the hospital Monday with weather-related injuries.
As snow blankets typically temperate states like Texas and Oklahoma and power outages cause misery in Louisiana, about 200 million people remain under some sort of weather-related alert.
LIVE UPDATES ON THE WINTER STORM
The storm is expected to move out through the Northeast late Tuesday, leaving a trail of heavy snow and ice in its path, CNN Meteorologist Tyler Mauldin said.
Temperatures are expected to rise as it moves, though record cold mornings and afternoons will linger through Saturday, Mauldin said. Millions are bracing for temperatures that feel below zero through late in the week.
But once the low-pressure system leaves states like Texas and Oklahoma, a system that has been pouring cold precipitation on the West Coast is expected to take its place with more wintry mischief, Maudlin said.
“I’m almost certain that we are slowly watching one of the first billion-dollar weather disaster of 2021 unfold,” Mauldin said.
As many as 200 more cold temperature records could be broken
The unusually cold temperatures are expected to have reached nearly every corner of the US.
Seattle has already reported more than 11 inches of snow over the weekend, the most since January 1972. More than 50 inches of snow has fallen in parts of Wyoming over the past few days.
A tornado was reported in Brunswick County, North Carolina, and rescue teams were dispatched to search for missing persons, according to the Wilmington Fire Department.
Dangerous wind chills have been recorded in Eastern Colorado and Western Kansas, according to the National Weather Service in Pueblo, Colorado. Wind chills ranging from 42 degrees below zero near Yuma, Colorado, to 25 degrees below zero near Norton, Kansas, were reported late Sunday evening.
More than 6 inches of snow has fallen from East Texas to Ohio, with some areas picking up more than a foot. Heavy snow could reach areas downwind of Lake Erie and Ontario as the system exits New England through Tuesday evening.
By that time, there is the potential for nearly 200 more cold temperature records to have been broken.
Oklahoma City has gone a record five days without climbing over 20 degrees — they are not expected to top that temperature until Thursday, for a stretch of nine days.
“This cold snap is forecast to result in record low temperatures that are comparable to the historical cold snaps of Feb 1899 & 1905,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Power and water shutoff
Dropping temperatures have frozen or overworked power sources, leaving nearly 5 million people in the dark as of early Tuesday morning.
Customers affected were primarily spread across Oregon, Texas, Kentucky, West Virginia and Virginia, according to Poweroutage.US.
Though rolling power outages are not planned for Louisiana, Gov. John Bel Edwards said they could happen if the power generation is unable to keep up with the demand. Edwards said this will be the coldest weather Louisiana has experienced in several decades, and that about 125,000 households have lost power, some for over 12 hours.
In Abilene, Texas, the approximately 123,000 residents are also without water due to power outages. All three water treatment plants in the city had to be shut off when both of their power sources went out, according to a statement from the City of Abilene.
“It is not known exactly when power and subsequent water service will be returned to Abilene water customers,” the city said.
Along with power, the winter storms have slowed Covid-19 vaccinations across the US.
San Antonio, Texas, has postponed vaccinations Tuesday at the Alamodome for the second day straight. Elsewhere in the state, Harris County, Texas, officials were racing to allocate and salvage 8,400 coronavirus vaccines that were in jeopardy of spoiling after the generator and back-up generator failed Monday morning.
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced Monday the state canceled all of its mass vaccination events scheduled for February 15-19 because of the extreme winter weather, according to a news release from the governor’s office.
“Missouri is experiencing severe winter weather that makes driving dangerous and threatens the health and safety of anyone exposed to the cold. These conditions will also likely delay some vaccine shipments,” Parson said. “We want to protect the safety of everyone involved in the mass vaccination events, from the patients being vaccinated to the volunteers who generously support these events.”
Truck slides down slick hill after winter storm
‘Roads are getting covered faster than we can get them cleared’
While waiting for the power to come back on, many officials have cautioned residents that now is no time to be on the road.
Since Sunday, the Mississippi Highway Patrol said it has investigated more than 400 weather-related traffic incidents.
All but eight counties in the state have reported ice on roads and bridges, according to a tweet from the Mississippi Highway Patrol.
And although officials are moving quickly to clear roads in Illinois, they are still “an absolute mess just about everywhere,” the Illinois Department of Transportation said in a tweet Monday.
“Heavy snowfall rates combined with blowing snow means that roads are getting covered faster than we can get them cleared,” the department tweeted.
Across the US, 2,281 flights were canceled for Tuesday, according to FlightAware.com
Texas among the worst-hit states
Texas, a state not used to the amount of snow it has seen, has suffered some of the worst impact from the storm.
More than 4.1 million customers are without power, according to Poweroutages.US, and daily life has been heavily impacted by the cold and the outages.
The Houston Chronicle informed subscribers Monday that it had been without power since 2 a.m. and that it didn’t expect to be able to produce a printed newspaper for Tuesday, according to a notice to subscribers.
“Even during Hurricane Harvey, our facility never lost power and we never stopped producing the print edition, but each weather emergency brings its own twists,” the newspaper wrote.
The cold even interrupted cellular service in Fort Bend County on Monday night, Fort Bend County Judge KP George wrote on his verified Twitter account.
“Cell phone service is starting to break down over the region as back-up generators at towers are freezing or running out of fuel or both,” Judge George tweeted.
For Jamie Taylor, a mother of five in Dallas, the more than 18-hour power outage meant caring for her family in 45 degree temperatures inside her apartment.
“Currently wearing a sweatsuit, 2 robes, knee high Ugg boots and a beanie. We’re surviving on cereal and chips. Only slightly losing it,” she tweeted along with a photo of herself.
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