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Storm Expected To Glaze Pennsylvania, New England In Ice

A major winter storm dumped a foot (0.3 meters) or more of the snow in parts of the Northeast on Friday, a day after ice snapped tree limbs and power lines in Memphis, knocking out electricity to nearly 125,000 homes and businesses.

Published: February 4, 2022 10:16 PM IST

By Associated Press | Edited by Snigdha Choudhury

Storm Expected To Glaze Pennsylvania, New England In Ice
Boats are covered with ice and snow at White Rock Lake, Thursday, Feb. 3, in Dallas. (Photo: AP)

A major winter storm dumped a foot (0.3 meters) or more of the snow in parts of the Northeast on Friday, a day after ice snapped tree limbs and power lines in Memphis, knocking out electricity to nearly 125,000 homes and businesses.

The outages were affecting nearly 30 per cent of those living in and around Memphis, where ice-laden tree limbs fell onto homes Thursday night, causing cracking and banging sounds.

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The storm, which began Tuesday in the Rockies, also disrupted flights at major hubs in the U.S. on Friday morning, including airports in New York City, Boston and Dallas.

More snow was forecast, but it was the ice that threatened to wreak havoc on travel and electricity service in the Northeast before the storm heads out to sea late Friday and Saturday, said Rick Otto, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in College Park, Maryland. “Snow is a lot easier to plow than ice,” he said.

Even after the storm pushes off to sea, ice and snow were expected to remain through the weekend because of subfreezing temperatures, Otto said.

Parts of New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont reported a foot or more of snow on Friday morning, according to the weather service.

About 350,000 homes and businesses lost power in an area stretching from Texas to Ohio on Thursday as freezing rain and snow brought down branches and encased power lines. The storm also caused a deadly tornado in Alabama, dumped more than a foot of snow in parts of the Midwest and brought a measurable snowfall to Texas, which is rare.

On Friday morning, the power outages were concentrated in Tennessee, Ohio, New York, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, according to the website, which tracks utility reports.

Many schools and businesses remained closed Friday in areas hit by the frigid weather on Thursday because roads remained icy and temperatures hadn’t risen above freezing.

Along the warmer side of the storm, in western Alabama, Hale County Emergency Management Director Russell Weeden told WBRC-TV that the tornado that hit a rural area Thursday afternoon killed one person, critically injured three others and heavily damaged a home.

Tornadoes in the winter are unusual, but scientists have said the atmospheric conditions needed to cause them have intensified as the planet warms.

The flight-tracking service showed more than 9,000 flights in the US scheduled for Thursday or Friday had been canceled, on top of more than 2,000 cancellations Wednesday as the storm began.

For a second straight night, Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport officials mobilized to accommodate travelers stranded at the American Airlines hub overnight by cancellations. On Wednesday night, the airport provided pillows, blankets, diapers and infant formula to an estimated 700 marooned travelers, and it said it was ready to do so again Thursday night if necessary.

The Ohio Valley was especially affected Thursday, with 211 flight cancellations at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport on Thursday. Nearly all Thursday afternoon and evening flights were canceled at the Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport. UPS suspended some operations Thursday at its Worldport hub at the airport, a rare move.

Hundreds of flights were canceled or delayed Friday at LaGuardia Airport in New York, Boston’s Logan Airport and Newark Liberty Airport.

In Memphis, crews worked Friday to remove trees and downed power lines from city streets, while those who lost electricity spent a cold night at home, or sought refuge at hotels or homes of friends and family. Public works and utility officials in Memphis said it could take days for power to be restored in the city.

Sub-freezing temperatures meant the ice would remain for days, making driving dangerous, officials said. Robert Knecht, Memphis’ public works director, said Thursday evening that there were 225 downed trees on city streets and that crews were working 16-hour shifts to clear them.

“We do foresee, though, that it’s going to take multiple days, given the inclement weather conditions, to clear the public right of way,” Knecht said.

In the Pittsburgh area, commuter rail service was halted Friday when a power line went down, trapping cars at a Port Authority of Allegheny County rail yard.

“With temperatures not expected to rise much throughout the day, quick repairs and restoration of the rail system will be difficult but our crews are out there trying as hard as they can,” the port authority tweeted.

In Texas, the return of subfreezing weather brought heightened anxiety nearly a year after February 2021’s catastrophic freeze that buckled the state’s power grid for days, leading to hundreds of deaths in one of the worst blackouts in US history. But Gov. Greg Abbott said Thursday’s power outages were due to high winds or downed power lines, not grid failures. About 18,000 homes and businesses in Texas remained without power Friday morning.

The storm came on the heels of a nor’easter last weekend that brought blizzard conditions to many parts of the East Coast.

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