AUSTIN, Texas — Nearly 300,000 homes and businesses across the state were without power Wednesday and more than 1,800 flights were canceled amid treacherous, icy conditions and a relentless blast of brutal cold that killed at least six people.
A winter weather system, now in its third day, has blown deep into the heart of Texas from Minnesota. Wrecks on slippery roads in Texas, Arkansas and other states were reported across the region throughout the week.
Austin Energy warned that power outages could last 12 to 24 hours in Austin.
“These weather-related outages are widespread. Ice is bringing down power lines and trees,” the city’s community-owned electric utility tweeted. “Crews are facing icy roads and frozen equipment, making it difficult to provide an estimated restoration time.”
Some parts of Texas were colder than Alaska. AccuWeather Dallas recorded a “real feeling” temperature of 28 degrees Wednesday morning — three degrees warmer than Anchorage, Alaska.
►In Memphis, services for Dyer Nichols, who died after being struck by police officers during a traffic stop last month, were delayed more than two hours “due to weather and travel delays.”
►In parts Minnesota, a wind chill advisory Amid wind chills as low as 35 degrees below zero prevailed Wednesday morning.
►A cold storm warning remains in effect until Thursday East central, southeastern and southern Oklahoma.
►New York’s LaGuardia Airport suffered ground shutdowns for the second straight morning due to cold weather, with delays averaging more than 40 minutes.
What is wind chill? Understanding the wind chill index and how it is calculated
A wind chill of 35 degrees below zero in northern Minnesota
Residents in parts of northern Minnesota woke up to temperatures as low as 25 degrees, the National Weather Service office in Duluth said. Light winds meant temperatures below 35 in some areas, where a wind chill advisory was in effect.
More than 1,200 flights in and out of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport were canceled before noon Thursday. The airport tweeted, “All travelers to DFW Airport should allow extra time to travel to the airport in consideration of road conditions. Please approach entry and departure plazas with extra caution.”
More than 300 flights in and out of Dallas’ Love Field were canceled. Officials warned commuters to allow extra time for shuttle services experiencing delays.
Air strikes nearly a year after a winter storm caused the cancellation of more than 2,000 flights at area airports.
Memphis schools canceled classes for the second day in a row Wednesday, and the Memphis Police Department implemented its inclement weather crash policy — officers don’t respond until a crash is serious, and drivers must file a police report within five days. Most city offices are closed, and Memphis International Airport is delayed by an average of 45 minutes.
“good news!” The weather service office in Memphis tweeted. “A third and final round of freezing rain and/or snow will begin this afternoon. Temperatures will rise above freezing by mid-morning tomorrow and precipitation will change back to rain.”
A blizzard warning remains in effect until Thursday morning Parts of it North and Central Texas The National Weather Service in Fort Worth warned that mostly freezing and sleet is expected in the region. The weather service warned that “significant” snowfall is expected, with accumulations reaching an inch and a half.
Some winter storm warnings The weather service said it will be lifted by Wednesday afternoon. But ice in the area could cause power outages and tree damage, and officials warned drivers should keep extra flashlights, food and water in their vehicles.
“The state of Texas is working around the clock to keep Texans safe and warm during this severe winter weather and flooding event,” said Governor Greg Abbott. “Texans are advised to be aware of the weather and stay off the roads if possible.”
A state of emergency has been declared in Arkansas
Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders declared a state of emergency and activated Arkansas National Guard Winter Weather Support Teams to assist state police. Interstate 40 in the Forrest City area was covered in snow and “extremely hazardous” on Tuesday, according to the city’s fire department. The department responded to two serious wrecks and about 15 accidents Tuesday morning, Division Chief Jeremy Sharp said. In many accidents, drivers speed up on the highway but run into trouble when they reach a bridge, he said.
“They hit the ice and they start to destroy,” he said.
Emergency responders have been responding to hundreds of highway crashes across Texas since Monday. At least six people died on slick Texas roads, including a three-fatality crash Tuesday near Brownfield, about 40 miles southwest of Lubbock.
A man was killed in a premature pile-up in Austin on Tuesday, a 45-year-old man died Monday night after his SUV ran over a highway guardrail and rolled down an embankment near Dallas. The vehicle he was driving crashed into a tree near Eldorado.
Officials said two law enforcement officials were seriously injured in the state. A Travis County sheriff’s deputy stopped to help the driver of an 18-wheeler that went off an icy highway Tuesday when a second truck pinned him under one of its tires, the sheriff’s office said. In another wreck, a Texas state trooper was hit by a driver who lost control of his vehicle and was hospitalized with serious injuries, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McGraw said.
What’s the difference? Snow and freezing rain vs. hail
Austin is struggling with outages, and the snow is coming
About a third of Texas power outages were in the Austin area early Wednesday morning. Although Austin could see temperatures reach 33 degrees for a few hours in the afternoon, forecasters warned of wind chills in the mid-20s.
The Austin area could see an additional 0.1 to 0.25 inches of snow Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service. There is a chance of freezing rain in the afternoon, although forecasters expect freezing rain to resume later in the evening and early Thursday morning.
A blizzard warning remained in effect for parts of eastern Arkansas, northern Mississippi and western Tennessee until Thursday. Up to an inch and a half of snow is possible.
Officials have warned that travel conditions will be difficult in the coming days. Interstate 40 in parts of Arkansas Tuesday was covered in snow.
serious Arctic winds will target the northeast Later this week, AccuWeather meteorologists predict.
Temperatures in Boston are expected to drop to 10 below zero on Saturday morning.
In parts of Maine, temperatures could drop as low as 28 degrees below zero this weekend.
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Contributed by: Associated Press