Thousands of Flight Cancellations, Icy Roads, and Power Outages in Central U.S.

Posted: February 4, 2022 12:22 pm

It has been a day of wild weather for much of the central U.S. This enormous weather maker is now tracking to the east, bringing more wintry precipitation to the storm weary region. Here is a snapshot of what is happening with this storm system.

Texas in Freezing Territory

It was a case of deja vu for much of Texas on Thursday. Cameron County in south Texas is just one of many Texas counties that are under wind chill advisories after a mass of Arctic air made its way down from Canada. As the southernmost point of Texas, Cameron County borders the Mexican state of Tamaulipas. The real feel temperature in Cameron County was predicted to hit 17 degrees by early Friday. Residents of the Lone Star State cannot help but think of last February’s winter ice storm that wreaked havoc on the region.

Air Travel Severely Impacted

Be sure to check your flight status before heading to the airport on Friday. Air travel was severely disrupted on Wednesday and Thursday as the winter weather set in across the nation. As of late Thursday, over 5,000 flights had been canceled along with more than 5,000 delays. Friday does not look to be much better as the winter weather will only expand farther to the east. Approximately 2,000 flights for Friday had already been canceled by late Thursday as airlines race to get ahead of the system.

Widespread Power Outages

There were also widespread power outages as a result of this storm. By late Thursday, over 200,000 customers throughout the nation were in the dark as the ice knocked out power in many areas. The highest concentration of power outages was in western Tennessee. Memphis was hit particularly hard as ice fell on trees and sent limbs dropping to the ground.

Snow Shifts Downward

Not surprisingly, the forecast has changed since the beginning of the week. As the track became more in focus, forecasters shifted the trajectory of the winter precipitation southward. This brought the prediction of the heaviest snowfall accumulation to include the southern shores of lakes Erie and Ontario southward. The cities that are now in the bullseye for the most significant accumulation include Cleveland; Buffalo and Syracuse, New York; and Montpelier, Vermont. These areas may see up to a foot of snow by the time the system pushes off shore.

Freezing Rain and Sleet

In addition to the snow, freezing rain and sleet will also continue to present a problem. Dangerous road conditions will be the norm in an area stretching from east-central and southeastern Ohio into the Hudson Valley of New York and Massachusetts. This means that motorists will need to take extra precautions along parts of interstates 68, 70, 79, 80, 81, 87, 88, 89, 90, and 99. The treacherous road conditions are predicted to last until at least early Saturday.

No Time to Breathe Easy

If you are living in the Northeast and have only experienced rain out of this system so far, it is no time to start breathing easy. While rain was the main form of precipitation throughout the heavily populated cities of Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, and Boston on Thursday, the ice may set in on Friday for these areas. In Boston in particular, the second shot of precipitation will likely fall as snow on Friday. This is not welcome news for a city still digging out from last weekend’s powerful nor’easter.

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Farther to the south, it is still uncertain how the precipitation will transition over the next several hours. It is not out of the realm of possibility that parts of New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. may see icy conditions if the mercury drops low enough on Friday.

What About the Weekend?

Temperatures will rebound slightly on Friday in the central U.S. with more seasonable readings expected in the Northeast by Saturday. The mercury may shoot above freezing in some areas of the nation’s capital and into Philadelphia on Saturday. However, those areas located farther to the north and west will still be at the mercy of the pervasive Arctic air mass throughout the weekend.

The overnight lows on Saturday are forecast to be well below zero across most of New England and the northern part of Pennsylvania. Another storm that is shaping up in the Southeast may bring more precipitation to the Carolinas and into the southeastern corner of Virginia on Sunday. This could mean more ice and snow for this area of the nation heading into the new week.

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