The weather forecast: At least 9 dead amid lingering winter storm in southern US

The weather forecast: At least 9 dead amid lingering winter storm in southern US

AUSTIN, Texas — A mess of ice, rain and snow remained across much of the southern US as thousands in Texas endured freezing temperatures without power, including many in the state capital of Austin, but a warming trend was expected to bring relief from the deadly storm on Thursday.

However, an Arctic cold front is expected to move from Canada into the Northern Plains and Northeast by Friday, bringing snow and bitter cold with wind chills of more than minus 50 to northern New England, according to the National Weather Service. . .

More than 400,000 customers in Texas were without power early Thursday, according to PowerOutage, a website tracking service.

Frustration mounted in Austin, where more than 150,000 residents were without power early Thursday, more than 24 hours after the power and heat went out. For many, it was the second time in three years that a February freeze caused extended outages and uncertainty about when the lights would come back on.

Unlike the 2021 power outages in Texas, when hundreds of people died after the state’s grid was pushed to the brink of total failure due to a lack of generation, the major outages in Austin this time were mostly the result of frozen equipment and trees that fell into energy. the lines. The city utility warned that all power may not be restored until Friday.

Pablo Vegas, who chairs the Texas Electric Reliability Council, vowed that the state’s electric grid and natural gas supply would be reliable and that there would not be a repeat of the February 2021 outages.

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School systems in the Dallas and Austin areas, plus many in Oklahoma, Arkansas and Memphis, Tennessee, were closed Thursday as snow, sleet and freezing rain continued to spread.

More than 700 flights scheduled for Thursday were canceled, according to flight tracking service It followed thousands of cancellations and delays since the cold weather set in on Monday.

Winter weather watches and warnings extended from the West Texas border with Mexico through Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana and into western Tennessee and northern Mississippi.

Treacherous driving conditions have resulted in at least nine deaths on slick roads since Monday, including seven in Texas and one each in Oklahoma and Arkansas. Texas Governor Greg Abbott urged people not to drive.

The latest fatality occurred late Wednesday on Interstate 40 in western Oklahoma when a semi-trailer overturned and vehicles behind it, including several other pieces of equipment, “cascaded” in separate crashes on the icy road, according to Eric Foster of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. .

The eastbound lanes were closed for more than five hours after the crashes, Foster said.

Public transit in Dallas is also experiencing “major delays,” according to a statement from Dallas Area Rapid Transit. The system serves about 220,000 riders daily in 13 cities within metro Dallas with a network of streetcars, light rail, buses and vans, according to its website.

Miller reported from Oklahoma City.

Copyright © 2023 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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