- Multiple incidents are being reported on major highways.
- Hundreds of flights have been cancelled.
- Texas officials say the power grid is ready.
Portions of major interstates are shut down, hundreds of flights are canceled, school is called off, and residents are being told to stay home as a significant winter storm treks across the Plains and Midwest.
The storm, named Landon by The Weather Channel, is already bringing ice, snow and plunging temperatures to many areas, and it’s expected to impact a wide swath of the US from the Rocky Mountains to the Southern Plains up to the Northeast through Friday.
One state in particular – Texas – is keeping a wary eye on the weather. Winter storms and frigid cold left unprecedented power outages in the state last year. More than 240 deaths were connected to winter weather there in February 2021.
(MORE: The Latest Forecast for Winter Storm Landon)
Landon is the fourth winter storm to cause travel delays and power outage concerns across multiple states in just the past three weeks. That’s not unusual this time of year, though. The end of January through February is the height of winter storm season.
Here’s a look at what’s happening as the storm’s impacts ramp up. Be sure to check back frequently for updates.
Numerous Crashes Ongoing in Illinois
Roads across the region are impacted, including a stretch of Interstate 55 in the central part of the state.
Missouri Roads Covered in Snow and Ice
Major routes across Missouri, including Interstates 70, 44 and 72 are covered with snow and ice as of about 1:45 pm CDT, according to the state Department of Transportation.
State of Emergency Declared in Kentucky
“If everything holds to where it is right now, this is the real deal,” Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said in an afternoon news briefing. “It is dangerous, people need to be prepared … and potentially be prepared to deal with this emergency for the next several days.”
The governor declared a state of emergency and activated some National Guard Troops.
Areas under high risk of heavy ice include Paducah and Louisville.
Hazardous Travel Conditions Expected as Soon as Tonight in Texas
Texas Department of Transportation Spokesman Tony Hartzel advised people to practice caution when venturing out on roads, even if things don’t look bad.
“If you don’t have to travel anytime starting now, or into this evening, just don’t travel,” Hartzel told The Weather Channel. “We’re looking at the major impacts to be starting overnight and into tomorrow morning, but certainly some of these bridges will ice over early and so people might not be expecting that so much.”
Rain is expected to transition to freezing rain in areas including Dalls-Fort Worth. On Thursday, snow, sleet and freezing rain may persist as far south as central and northern Texas.
Some Roads Can’t Be Pre-Treated Due to Rain
While crews were out in force clearing roads in several states and trying to keep ahead of the weather, rain in some areas means roads can’t be pre-treated ahead of incoming snow, ice and freezing temperatures.
Rain washes away the solution crews use to help prevent icing.
Officials in Indiana, for example, were warning that could contribute to hazardous driving conditions. More than 50 National Guard teams were being deployed to help stranded motorists, The Associated Press reported. Residents were being asked to stay home if possible.
“We have the resources to weather this storm. What we really need is cooperation,” Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said in a Wednesday news conference. “Stay safe.
Power Outages Tick Up
About 13,000 homes and businesses are without electricity in Illinois as of 12:40 pm CDT, according to PowerOutage.us. Most are scattered across the middle to southern parts of the state.
Drivers Asked To Avoid Travel in Missouri
“If you do not have to travel, please stay off of the roadways as much as possible, give the crews room to work,” Sarah Russell, commissioner of emergency management for the city of St. Louis, told The Weather Channel Wednesday morning.
If you must go out, Russell said, be prepared for delays and the possibility of being stranded. Have supplies such as snacks, water, blankets, salt, kitty litter, as well as a phone charger and a full tank of gas when you start your trip.
“We know this is a long duration storm,” she said.
Dallas, Dozens of Other School Districts Close in Texas
Schools across Central and North Texas are announcing school closures for Thursday, and in some cases Friday, as the storm’s impacts widen.
Districts that have already called off classes according to local media include Dallas, Arlington, Denton, Fort Worth, Irving, Plano, Round Rock, Hays and Lake Travis
Deliveries Could be Delayed
At least one major shipping companies is warning customers that delays are possible.
“The FedEx meteorology and operations teams are closely monitoring Winter Storm Landon as it develops across the Central United States,” FedEx said in an update posted Wednesday on its website. “The storm could create hazardous conditions for our team members and their safety remains our number one priority.
Contingency plans are in place, and we will be prepared to provide the best possible service in areas affected by the winter storm and as local conditions allow.”
I-70 Closed in Missouri
A portion of Interstate 70 is closed west of Columbia as of 11:45 am CST, with road conditions described as “terrible” by emergency management officials, according to a tweet from the Kansas City office of the National Weather Service.
Truckers are having trouble getting up hills in the area and at least one semi is jackknifed, according to the state Department of Transportation.
Travel Treacherous in Illinois
Things aren’t any better in Central Illinois, where a portion of westbound I-74 in Piatt County is blocked by multiple jackknifed semi trailers as of 11:45 am CDT.
Traffic cameras early this morning showed treacherous conditions on I-80 in the Chicago area.
Flights Canceled at Major Airports
More than 500 flights are canceled at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport as of noon CDT and hundreds of others are delayed, according to airline tracking website FlightAware. Over 300 are canceled at St. Louis Lambert International, where Southwest Airlines is completely shut down.
Other major cities reporting airport delays or cancellations include Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver, Detroit and Indianapolis.
Texas Officials Say Grid Is Ready
Large accumulations of ice and snow are possible, making power outages a major concern.
“With a quarter-inch of ice, there can be power outages and roads will be a mess,” weather.com meteorologist Ari Sarsalari said Tuesday. “When you get up to about a half-inch or more, that’s when you start to see a lot of tree branches coming down, significant power outages.”
The prospect of losing electricity is especially unsettling in parts of Texas, where just shy of one year ago an outbreak of record-breaking frigid weather and a trio of storms, in particular Winter Storm Uri, left millions of people without electricity or clean running water , in some cases for several weeks.
That weather was unprecedented for Texas, with multiple back-to-back days of below-normal temperatures.
Winter Storm Landon will be nothing like that.
“The coldest air of this outbreak will only last a few days, at most, rather than the solid week straight siege one year ago,” weather.com senior meteorologist Jonathan Erdman wrote in an article published Monday. “While this will certainly be a headache, we don’t anticipate a repeat of the multi-billion dollar disaster that was the Feb. 2021 cold wave.”
The Texas Department of State Health Services connected more than 246 deaths brutal winter weather that month, including people who froze to death in their own homes or succumbed to fires or carbon monoxide poisoning while trying to stay warm.
(MORE: Winter Storm Landon Tracker Maps: Radar, Forecast Snow, Ice and Timing)
The power outages prompted outcry and reform, including new laws on how power plants must prepare for winter and fines up to $1,000,000 per day for those who fail to do so.
In January, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, known as ERCOT, released a report on inspections of 324 power facilities. The agency, which manages the flow of electricity from producers to consumers, said all but three met new winterization standards.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott assured residents Tuesday the grid was up to par, and said the highest demand was expected Friday morning.
“No one can guarantee that there won’t be any” outages, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said during a briefing in Austin. “But what we will work to achieve, and what we’re prepared to achieve, is that power is going to stay on across the entire state.”
The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.