Powerful winter storm drifting out to sea, but its effects will be felt for days
Updated February 4, 2022 at 6:35 PM ET
The last bands of rain, ice and snow from a major winter storm were sweeping out to sea late Friday but its impact will continue to be felt through the weekend.
Snow and ice covered a large swath of the middle of the country, stretching from Texas to Maine, and with temperatures not expected to rise above freezing in many of those areas, roads will remain treacherous as power crews scramble to restore service to some of the more than 350,000 homes and businesses that were without electricity at one point.
Due to expected an flash freeze across parts of New England, Boston and other cities in the region are warning residents to expect icy roadways and to drive slowly if travel is a necessity.
Massachusetts State Police responded to more than 200 crashes with property damage or injuries and at least one fatality, The Associated Press reported.
Rain and snow fell in New York during the storm and meteorologists warned that with temperatures falling below freezing, residents should still be on the lookout for ice.
Parts of Ohio and Pennsylvania saw snowfall taper off Friday evening, but frigid temperatures are expected to persist through the night, according to NWS Cleveland. Texas, too, will see freezing temperatures overnight, despite some areas having warmed up earlier in the day, NWS Fort Worth said. A hard freeze warning is in effect in numerous cities in the state until Saturday morning, a recent Weather.gov update stated.
The Weather Service is anticipating record lows in some parts of Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, according to a Friday afternoon update. But the storm is forecast to begin moving out off the New England coast tonight.
Cold temperatures and blistering winds are expected to persist in much of the Midwest and along the East Coast through the weekend.
More than 5,000 flights into, out of and within the U.S. were canceled on Friday and another 5,000 delayed, according to travel tracking site Flight Aware, and nearly 1,500 have been canceled for Saturday.
More snow and ice are forecast into Saturday morning, according to the National Weather Service, with the eastern parts of Maine predicted to be hit the hardest with an excess of six inches of snow. New Hampshire, Vermont, and some parts of New York are also expected to get several inches of snow.
Ice has been a continuing problem for numerous states and difficult road conditions are expected to continue through Saturday morning in some areas. Parts of New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Connecticut are expected to get the worst of it, with ice accumulation ranging from a quarter to half an inch, according to graphics shared by the NWS.
With a combination of dropping temperatures and continuing rain, the National Weather Service in New York warned drivers to be on the lookout for "sneaky winter hazards," like unexpectedly icy roads, that could create dangerous situations.
"Don't take a risk. Stay home if you can today," New York Gov. Kathy Hochul urged residents Friday.
From Texas to Ohio, the storm — on the heels of a storm last week that blanketed the Northeast — had already knocked out power to more than 350,000 properties, according to The Associated Press. In Tennessee nearly 100,000 customers were without power late Friday, mostly in the Memphis area, down from 125,ooo earlier in the day.
Christopher Blank, news director with Memphis member station WKNO, told NPR's Morning Edition that the abundance of trees in the city was a contributing factor to how so many were left without electricity amid icy temperatures. Many ended up "encased" in ice and were felled by the strong winds, Blank said. It's part of a recent trend that's seen snowy weather worsening in the area in recent years.
"Two years in a row now, people are starting to wonder if this could be the new normal with climate change," Blank said.
Ohio has also been hard hit, with about 40,000 homes and businesses without power late Friday, down from 85,000 earlier in the day, according to poweroutage.us, which tracks service outages across the country.
Multiple counties were placed under snow emergencies this week, meaning that road usage and other activities were greatly restricted and conditions are generally hazardous. And at least eight counties have been placed under a level 3 snow emergency status, with all roads closed for non-emergency use, according to local outlet WKYC.
"No one should be on the roadway unless it is absolutely essential to travel," a statement from the Erie County Sheriff's Office reads, citing "extremely hazardous" conditions. "Those operating vehicles on the roadway for non-emergency reasons may be subject to arrest."
Heavy snowfall and power outages in Texas evoked memories of last year, when a massive storm left millions in the state without power for days. Hundreds died and many are still struggling to recover. So far, however, the state's power grid is "more reliable and resilient than ever," Gov. Greg Abbott said Friday.
Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.