Air travel disrupted, electric power at risk as 100 million people are affected by winter weather warnings as storm moves across US.
A massive winter storm ravaged the center of the United States on Wednesday with heavy snowfall, icy rain and gusts of wind, making travel dangerous and potentially cutting power for millions of Americans.
Winter and ice storm warnings and watches were in effect for a wide swath of the U.S. reaching from Texas and Colorado through the Midwest and into northern New York until Friday morning, the National Weather Service (NWS) said.
The blast of frigid weather, which began arriving in the center of the US Tuesday night, brought a long swath of states from New Mexico and Colorado to Maine under winter storm warnings and alerts.
“For many areas, we’re going to have significant amounts of snow and ice as well,” said Andrew Orrison, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in College Park, Maryland.
The storm had already dropped heavy snowfall over much of Kansas and parts of Missouri early Wednesday, with weather forecasters warning that snow was only expected to increase during the day. More than 12 inches of snow was expected in parts of central Missouri and Michigan, and up to 12 inches of snow could fall in central and northeastern Illinois Wednesday and Thursday.
A large-scale winter storm will hit the central, eastern and southern parts of the US over the next 2-3 days. Heavy snowfall is expected from the southern Rockies to northern New England, while heavy ice buildup is likely from TX to PA.https://t.co/VyWINDk3xP for the latest, local information. pic.twitter.com/pEuE2Kk8Yz
– National Weather Service (@NWS) February 2, 2022
Southern spots may see a mixture of snow and icy rain, which will quickly worsen travel conditions on Wednesday, the NWS said. Gusts of up to 40 mph (64 km/h) were also forecast.
“Expect power outages and tree damage from the ice. Travel can be impossible. The hazardous conditions could affect commuting in the morning or evening,” the agency said in its advisory for Memphis.
More than 100 million people have been warned about winter weather stretching from the Rockies to New England, CNN reported.
According to Flightaware.com, about 2,400 flights were canceled on Wednesday morning. More than 400 flights were canceled to and from Chicago’s two major airports alone, where as much as a foot of snow was forecast for parts of the metro area.
In northwestern Indiana, heavy snowfall has created dangerous travel conditions, especially on highway ramps, the Indian state police warned, urging people not to travel if not necessary.
In areas south of the heavy snowfall, freezing rain was expected, with the heaviest ice forecast for Kentucky and Tennessee.
The storm forced dozens of school districts in the region to cancel classes on Wednesday.
Extremely cold air caused by Arctic high pressure expected to drop over the upper Midwest on Wednesday will push temperatures below average in some areas, the NWS added.
The latest storm comes days after severe winter weather swept through the northeastern U.S., dropping more than two feet of snow in some areas and whipping up high winds, canceling thousands of flights and restricting road access in some states. .
Wednesday was also the quirky American holiday Groundhog Day, when the world’s most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, saw his shadow at an early morning ceremony in Pennsylvania, predicting six more weeks of winter.