AUSTIN, Texas — A mess of ice, sleet and snow lingered across much of the southern U.S. as thousands in Texas endured freezing temperatures with no power, including many in the state capital of Austin, but a warming trend was forecast to bring relief from the deadly storm Thursday, Feb. 2.
However, an Arctic cold front is expected to move from Canada into the northern Plains and Upper Midwest and sweep into the Northeast by Friday, bringing snow and bitter cold with windchills of more than minus 50 in northern New England, according to the National Weather Service.
More than 400,000 customers in Texas lacked power early Thursday as trees, heavy with ice, buckled onto power lines, according to PowerOutage, a website tracking utility reports.
More than 150,000 of those power failures were in Austin, where the city’s utility warned residents that lights and heat may not come back on until later Thursday.
Pablo Vegas, who heads the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, vowed the state’s electrical grid and natural gas supply would be reliable and there wouldn’t be a repeat of the February 2021 blackouts, when the grid was on the brink of total failure.
School systems in the Dallas and Austin, plus many in Arkansas and Memphis, Tennessee, closed Thursday as bands of winter precipitation continued to push through.
More than 700 flights scheduled for Thursday were canceled, according to the flight tracking service FlightAware.com. That followed thousands of cancellations and delays since frigid weather set in Monday.
Watches and warnings about wintry conditions stretched from the West Texas border with Mexico through Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana and into western Tennessee and northern Mississippi.
The treacherous driving conditions resulted in at least eight deaths on slick roads since Monday, including seven in Texas and one in Arkansas. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott urged people not to drive.
Public transportation 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 the Dallas metro with a network of streetcars, light rail, buses and vans, according to its website.
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