Texas has had its “most significant icing” in decades from Winter Storm Landon as freezing conditions swept into the Northeast on Friday, threatening a foot of snow in northern reaches of New York and New England.
In Memphis, Tennessee, a 16 vehicle pile-up sent two people to hospital in critical condition and left four others injured.
Texas Governor Greg Abbot called the storm “one of the most significant icing events that we’ve had in the State of Texas in at least several decades”, and issued a disaster proclamation for 17 counties.
Hundreds of people were left stranded in miles-long, traffic jams near San Antonio after the storm pummeled the South with heavy snow and icy conditions. Drivers were trapped in their cars for up to 12 hours on the major freeway I-10 in sub-freezing temperatures, according to reports.
[2/4/22 Noon] - The sun is out for many of you, but that does not mean road conditions have improved. Some spots may begin to thaw, while shaded areas will likely continue to be icy. Anything that does thaw will quickly refreeze this evening. #dfwwx #ctxwx #txwx pic.twitter.com/PUk5m21bw0
— NWS Fort Worth (@NWSFortWorth) February 4, 2022
Millions of people are being impacted by the severe weather, which dumped a foot of snow in the Midwest and led to warnings from the South to the Northeast through Friday night.
More than a foot of snow fell in parts Pennsylvania, New York and New England on Friday amid widespread warnings about roads and sidewalks icing over due to plummeting temperatures.
Three deaths have been linked to the severe weather conditions. One person died and another was hospitalised following a crash in Bernalillo County, New Mexico, the local sheriff’s department reported.
The driver of an 18-wheeler semi-truck was killed after he was thrown from his cab during a crash in Dallas, Texas, authorities said.
A tornado caused by the winter storm left one person dead and three others in critical condition after their mobile home was picked up by the twister in western Alabama.
More than 4,700 flights have been cancelled in the US and around 300,000 people are without power in southern states, the Midwest and on the east coast.
The hardest hit state is Tennessee, where nearly 133,000 homes are without power, while Ohio has more than 72,000 outages and New York has 59,000. Power is down for thousands more people across the states of Texas, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania, according to poweroutage.us.
Thick coatings of ice on overhead lines and downed pylons were being blamed for power outages. Governor Abbott said Texas’s outages were due to high winds or downed power lines, not grid failures.
Thousands of flights were grounded on Friday, according to FlightAware’s “misery map”, with Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport the worst affected by a long stretch followed by LaGuardia in New York, Boston and New Jersey’s Newark.
Winter Storm Landon locked in on Thursday with heavy snow, thick ice and freezing rain, leaving travel conditions treacherous.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz shared some winter storm advice on Thursday afternoon. “As the winter storm moves across Texas, here are some helpful resources for the coming days,” he tweeted, with a list of websites.
In February 2021, a devastating, historic freeze left more than 200 people dead, and tens of thousands in the cold and dark for days in Texas after the state power grid buckled in subfreezing conditions.
At the time, the Republican senator was on vacation in Cancun, Mexico.
Twitter wasted no time with its responses. One user tweeted a visitors’ guide to Cancun, with the hashtag #CancunCruzAversary, while others responded with links for cheap flight deals to the beach resort.
ERCOT, which controls 90 per cent of Texas’ electric load, reported normal conditions on Friday. “There is enough power for current demand,” the company website stated.
The cold front stretching across the South and East will have moved out to sea by Saturday morning, according to the National Weather Service. The forecast will come as a relief for much of the region which is still recovering from last weekend’s blizzard conditions.
Temperatures will be 10 to 25 degrees below average to the west of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River, while it will be 10 to 25 degrees above average along parts of the East Coast.