Residents of the northeast have been urged to stay off the roads as temperatures began to drop on Friday evening as a major winter storm turned already slippery roads and sidewalks into ice-covered hazards.
The storm spread misery from the Deep South, where tree branches snapped and a tornado claimed lives, to the northeastern tip of the country where snow and ice made travel dangerous on Friday.
Massachusetts State Police have responded to more than 200 crashes with property damage or injury, including one fatality, as of Thursday night, officials said. New Hampshire State Police reported at least 70 crashes Friday morning.
“This number is most certainly low as reports are still being written and entered,” the Massachusetts State Police tweeted.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul warned residents as snow blew seaward late Friday and Saturday to stay home if possible to avoid ice-covered roads and the threat of falling tree branches in the Hudson Valley and the Capital Regions.
“We are not out of the danger zone yet,” Hochul said. “The weather is extremely unpredictable.”
More than a foot (30 centimeters) of snow fell in parts of Pennsylvania, New York and New England. Utility crews were making progress in an area stretching from Texas to Ohio after around 350,000 homes and businesses were left in the dark at one point.
One of the hardest-hit places was Memphis, where more than 100,000 customers were left without power Friday night in Shelby County alone, according to poweroutage.us, which tracks utility reports.
Memphis resident Michael LaRosa described creaking and snapping as tree branches fell, and the hum and thud of transformers blowing through his tree-lined Midtown neighborhood. A fire broke out at the end of his street, caused by a live wire on Thursday.
“It was pretty surreal for a little while,” LaRosa, a Rhodes College professor and book editor, said Friday. “There were people walking in the streets and I was afraid limbs would fall on them. The neighborhood kind of fell apart quite quickly and quite dramatically.
Crews worked to remove trees and knock down power lines from city streets, while those who lost power spent a cold night at home or sought refuge in hotels or with friends and family. family. Utility officials said it could take days to restore power.
It will also take days to remove 225 downed trees from city streets, and crews were working 16-hour days to do so, Robert Knecht, director of public works for Memphis, said Thursday evening.
In Oklahoma, police in Broken Arrow, a suburb of Tulsa, say they are investigating a hit-and-run accident that killed a 12-year-old boy who was struck while sledding .
The tragedy also hit western Alabama, where a tornado on Thursday killed one person and seriously injured three others, Hale County Emergency Management Director Russell Weeden told local media.
The storm represented a “highly energized system” with low pressure waves rolling like a train from Texas, where there was snowfall and sub-freezing temperatures, to Maine and the Canadian Maritimes, said Maine National Weather Service meteorologist Hunter Tubbs.
Airlines cut about 3,400 flights as of midday Friday, with the highest number of cancellations at Dallas-Fort Worth and New York and Boston area airports, according to tracking service FlightAware.
Slippery roads slid dozens of vehicles off the roads, even before conditions deteriorated during the evening rush hour.
In Tennessee, a man was killed when his truck hit a fallen tree on a highway, causing the vehicle to spin in a ditch Thursday night in Haywood County, Highway Patrol said.
In the Pittsburgh area, commuter rail service was disrupted when a power line fell, trapping cars in an Allegheny County Port Authority rail yard.
In New York’s Hudson Valley, the Catskill Wildlife Sanctuary was relying on generators for power Friday after the overnight ice storm.
“We had trees all over the property and trees in our driveway,” said Kathy Stevens, founder of the rescued farm animal shelter.
But the approximately 250 animals at Saugerties were doing well, she said. Large animals took shelter in barns, and small animals were taken to offices, the infirmary and other places to protect themselves from falling trees.
In Texas, the return of below-freezing weather has sparked heightened anxiety nearly a year after the catastrophic February 2021 freeze that shut down the state’s power grid for days, killing hundreds in the 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 outages. About 13,000 homes and businesses in Texas were left without power Friday afternoon.
In New England, some places welcomed winter weather, which was a boon for skiers and snowmobilers.
In Vermont, no one was complaining at Stowe Mountain Resort where skiers and snowboarders reported some of the best conditions of the season, with more than 10 inches (25 centimeters) of snowfall overnight and snow continuing to fall.
“We’re having fun, the sauce is flowing,” said Jared Marshall, of Denmark, Maine, a member of New Hampshire’s Colby Sawyer College ski team in town for a ski competition.
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