More than 400,000 homes and businesses were without power in Texas on Thursday as a nasty winter weather system of ice, sleet and snow continued to take its toll across much of the South.
Austin was hit hard with more than 150,000 failures. The city’s utility and mayor warned residents they could go without lights and heat until Thursday or Friday.
Another 120,000 customers in three southern states were without power because of the storm, most of them in Arkansas.
At least 10 people have died on icy, treacherous highways since Monday, seven in Texas, two in Oklahoma and one in Arkansas. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott urged residents to stay off the streets.
As of this morning, more than 700 flights scheduled for Thursday have been canceled, according to flight tracking service FlightAware.com. Arctic weather has been responsible for thousands of cancellations and delays since Monday.
There was some good news: forecasters were expecting an end to the frigid conditions that slammed the south later Thursday. But further north, several states bordering Canada braced for wind chills that could drop as low as 45 degrees below zero.
In New York and New England, residents were also preparing for cold winds and heavy lake-effect snow, which could create hazardous travel conditions across the region.
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Power outages remain a problem in Texas
Though the ice storm warning has expired across Texas, power outages continued to affect hundreds of thousands across the state Thursday. About 410,000 electricity customers were without power as of Thursday morning, according to PowerOutage.us.
Austin Mayor Kirk Watson said at a news conference Thursday that wintry conditions have reminded residents of the city of the “fear and trauma” they experienced during the February 2021 winter storm that killed at least 200 people died.
Watson said restoring power was “very difficult” due to the length and nature of the storm.
“We anticipate it will be late tomorrow before we’ve essentially restored power to everyone in the city,” he said.
Warming trend to bring relief to the south
The National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center is forecasting an end to Thursday’s damaging ice storm that has been battering Texas through Tennessee as “a final wave of moisture slides eastward.”
Temperatures in the south should climb above freezing by Thursday afternoon, according to AccuWeather’s lead meteorologist Tom Kines.
Dallas and Memphis, Tenn., could see temperatures in the mid-30s on Thursday, and sunshine was expected to warm the Dallas area into the mid-40s and near 50 degrees on Friday, forecasters said.
However, overnight temperatures could drop below 32 by Friday and while the change is unlikely to bring precipitation, Kines said frozen wet patches could slip the roads Friday morning.
Most of the impact was behind people in the Dallas and Fort Worth areas Thursday morning as the precipitation began to ease, Weather Service meteorologist Hunter Reeves said.
“There will still be some muddy patches and many people will see better road conditions while some will see little improvement,” Reeves told USA TODAY, adding that a broader improvement in road conditions would begin on Friday.
Wind chill hit New York, New England
A wind chill warning was in effect Thursday in northern New York, Vermont. Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and parts of Connecticut, the weather service said. Wind chills could be as low as 50 degrees below zero.
Even ahead of dangerous temperatures, officials warned people should keep pets indoors as much as possible and check on elderly family members, friends and neighbors frequently.
TEXAS POWER FAILURE TRACKER:400,000 failures as a winter storm, ice sweep condition
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The ice storm warning in Oklahoma, Arkansas and other states continues
An ice storm warning remained in effect in parts of several states Thursday morning, the National Weather Service said in Memphis, Tennessee.
Officials continued to advise against travel, but people who must drive should have an extra flashlight and food and water in their vehicles, they said.
The ice storm warning on Thursday affected over 3 million people in parts of Arkansas, southwest Tennessee, northern Mississippi and Oklahoma.
The Dallas/Fort Worth office of the National Weather Service said ice storm warnings were lifted Thursday morning as conditions improved and no warnings remained in effect in the area, though power outages and tree damage due to ice were still a possibility.
Windchill consulting in Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin
Parts of Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin are on a wind chill advisory through Friday. Wind chills could reach as low as 50 degrees below zero.
Officials advised people to wear proper winter clothing outside, including hats and gloves.
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Featuring: Doyle Rice, USA TODAY; Associated Press