AUSTIN, TX (AP) — Freezing slush, sleet and snow lingered across much of the US South Thursday as thousands of people in Texas survived the cold without power, including many in the state capital Austin, but a warming trend was forecast. bring relief from the deadly storm.
Hundreds more flights were canceled again in Texas, although not as many as in previous days. But another wave of cold weather in the US is on the horizon, and the Arctic cold front is expected to move out of Canada into the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest and move northeast by Friday. The front is expected to bring snow and cold winds below minus 50 (minus 45 Celsius) to northern New England, according to the National Weather Service.
More than 416,000 customers in Texas were without power as of early Thursday, according to PowerOutage, a website tracking service.
The outages were most common in Austin, where frustration soared among more than 150,000 customers more than 24 hours after their power and heat went out. For many, it was the second time in three years that a severe frost in February caused extended blackouts and uncertainty about when the lights would come back on.
Unlike the 2021 Texas power outages, in which hundreds of people died after the state’s power grid was brought to the brink of total failure due to a lack of generation, Austin’s power outages this time were mostly the result of equipment freezing and falling trees on power lines. . The city’s utilities have warned that all power can only be restored on Friday as the ice continues to cause more blackouts even as repairs have been completed elsewhere.
“It’s like two steps forward and three steps back,” says Jackie Sargent, general manager of Austin Energy.
School systems in the Dallas and Austin area, as well as many in Oklahoma, Arkansas and Memphis, Tennessee, closed on Thursday due to continued snowfall, sleet and freezing rain. Public transit in Dallas also experienced “serious delays” early Thursday morning, according to a statement from Dallas Area Rapid Transit.
Airport crews fought the ice to keep the runways open. By Thursday morning, airlines had canceled more than 500 flights at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport—more than a quarter of all flights scheduled for that day. However, according to FlightAware.com, that’s down from about 1,300 cancellations on Wednesday and more than 1,000 on Tuesday.
Dozens more flights were canceled Thursday at Dallas Love Field International Airport and Austin-Bergstrom.
Winter conditions sightings and warnings extended from the West Texas-Mexico border through Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana to western Tennessee and northern Mississippi. And in a briefing Thursday with the Federal Weather Prediction Center, New Englanders warned that chills — the combined effect of wind and cold air on exposed skin — in minus 50s “could be the coldest sensation in decades.”
Strong winds and cold air will bring cold winds “rare in northern and eastern Maine,” the National Weather Service in Caribou, Maine, said in a statement.
Jay Broccolo, director of weather operations at New Hampshire’s Mount Washington Observatory, which has held the world gust record for decades, said Thursday winds could reach 100 mph (160 km/h).
“We take safety at higher peaks very seriously and the forecast for this weekend looks pretty bleak even by our standards,” Broccolo said.
At least nine people have died due to treacherous road conditions since Monday, including seven in Texas and one each in Oklahoma and Arkansas. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott urged people not to drive.
Top photo: Austin Energy installers Ken Gray (left) and Chad Sefchik work to restore power to ice-covered lines along West Alpine Road during a winter storm on Wednesday, February 1, 2023, in Austin, Texas. (Jay Jenner/Austin American-Statesman via AP)
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