A combination of sleet, snow and ice has hit over 2,000 miles of the eastern and central US. Those within the area are now stuck in this storm with no power.
This was to be expected as over 100 million people in 25 states between the Mexican and Canadian borders were under winter weather alerts on Thursday. This is on top of meteorologists warning early this week that power outages were inevitable.
Tracking The Power Across The US
And in fact, they were. Because at about noon ET, at least 210,000 customers are without power according to Poweroutage.us.
Texas and Tennesse each have over 70,000 customers without power at that hour and Arkansas had close to 25,000 homes and businesses without light and heat.
In Texas, this storm is putting the state's power grid to the test. Leaders of the state's power grid - Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT - stated Wednesday they believe they can handle the high demands this time. After all, last February the outages were catastrophic. The state experienced 246 deaths - most from hypothermia - during that period and the storm left thousands without power for weeks.
While the ERCOT assures the power is better prepared, outages can still occur as local outages can be caused by ice on the wires or fallen tree limbs.
Tracking The Snow Storm Across The US
The National Weather Service's Weather Prediction Center has said significant winter storms are expected to impact much of the central and Northeaster U.S. through until Friday night. This is understandable as over 20 inches of snow have already piled up in the Colorado Springs area and parts of Illinois and Indiana have under a foot of snow.
Overall, as the storm system is pushing further east, forecasters are saying it's delivering a frigid mixture of hazards. The National Weather Service stated on Wednesday that:
"The system will be prolonged with several rounds of winter weather lasting through Friday for portions of the central U.S. before shifting to the interior Northeast,"
Out of this storm, there are several cities that are taking the brunt of this storm, those being:
- Texas. Dallas is predicted to have half an inch of ice. The upside is the freezing rain, sleet and snow were projected to peak Thursday morning. Austin could also get a quarter of an inch and a half-inch of sleet, the worst peaking by Thursday afternoon.
- St. Louis. The city is predicted to get 5 to 8 inches more snow Thursday after getting 4 inches in isolated areas.
- Memphis, Tennessee. A quarter-inch to a half-inch of ice by Thursday and conditions to peak from Thursday morning until 1 p.m.
- Louisville, Kentucky. Half an inch of ice is expected to form here. This is on top of an inch of sleet and snow. Peak hours are set around 7 a.m. Thursday through to 1 a.m. Friday.
- Little Rock, Arkansas. Half an inch of ice on top of an inch of snow and sleet each.
- Oklahoma City. Setting a new snowfall record on February 2nd - 3 inches on Wednesday - there could be another 4 inches of snow before the storm is over. Ice accumulation could reach half an inch.
- Chicago. A potential 4 inches of extra snow could be added on top of the nearly 9. inches that have dropped.
- Indiana. After 11 inches of snow, there could be another 2 to 6 inches. Peak conditions are lasting until 6 p.m. Thursday. Indianapolis already has 4 inches of snow and could see another 3 inches.
- Buffalo, New York. The area could be hit with 7 to 13 inches of snow from this storm, with the peak happening Thursday afternoon and into the evening.
Travelling Has Been A Nightmare
Because of a combination of snow, sleet and ice in several areas, travelling in these conditions is nightmarish bordering suicidal. Already these conditions have caused crashes and road closures. In Illinois alone, officials have closed parts of several highways after several wrecks.
In Springfield, a train crashed into a car that got stuck on the tracks due to snow Wednesday night. The driver was able to get out in time with no injuries thankfully.
Amtrak also cancelled several train routes Thursday that are going in and out of Chicago. Routes including the Cardinal Train 51 to New York. The route between St. Louis and Kansas City was also cancelled amongst them.
In Oklahoma, travel in the state is strongly discouraged. So far only two counties in the state are unaffected as of Thursday morning with portions of several interstates closing down. I-40 and I-35 are amongst them.
The Missouri Department of Transportation also issued warnings that many roads across the state were covered in snow.
This gigantic snowstorm also has caused issues with air travel. The conditions created so far are projected to be one of the 10 worst days for air travel since this past year. Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport also closed early Thursday morning due to the snow and ice. It reopened hours later.