US: It’s A Wintry Mess From The Southwest To The Northeast

It’s a wintry mess from the Southwest to the Northeast (CNN, DEc 7, 2013):

From Texas to Tennessee, there’s not much relief in sight for people smacked by a frigid winter storm that killed at least four, shut down schools, backed up interstates and left hundreds of thousands without power.The National Weather Service predicted more sleet and subfreezing temperatures in Dallas and Memphis until Sunday and in Little Rock, Arkansas, until Monday.

Other parts of the country braced for bad weather. The storm moved east Friday night, with snow expected to accumulate across the central Appalachians through central New England into early Saturday morning.

Snow or sleet was expected to hit Washington, D.C., on Sunday.

Dallas/Fort Worth took the hardest hit. It was colder in the Big D (26 degrees) than in Anchorage, Alaska (34 degrees), prompting the cancellation of the Dallas Marathon and spurring Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport to cancel almost 700 flights, about 80% of those scheduled.

About 200,000 customers lost electricity, and a local official urged people to offer shelter to those without power. Southbound Interstate 35 was shut down and traffic backed up for six miles, CNN affiliate WFAA in Dallas reported.

The temperature swings were startling. Hot Springs, Arkansas, experienced a record high of 75 on Wednesday. By Friday morning, the city was in the middle of an ice storm.

The storm caught a lot of Texans by surprise. Debra Knight, a CNN iReporter, said she ran her defroster 20 minutes but couldn’t get rid of the thick layer of ice on top of her car in Dallas.

“This is Texas. We don’t have snow tools!” said her husband, Bobby.

Storm deaths

In some cases, the weather has been deadly.

In Texas, a passenger was killed Thursday in Hockley County when a vehicle lost control and crashed into another car, Sgt. Bryan Witt of the Texas Department of Public Safety said.

An Arkansas man was killed late Thursday when a tree fell on his camper in Pope County, Tommy Jackson, an Arkansas Department of Emergency Management spokesman, said Friday. Jackson said the death was related to the weather but couldn’t provide details about the weather at the time. Rain and freezing rain were reported in the area Thursday night.

Highway Patrol officials in Oklahoma blamed at least one death, in Muskogee, on the weather. The agency initially said weather had caused another death, that of a 24-year-old man in Owasso, but later said this fatality “is still under investigation and may not be winter storm related.”

No snow had fallen in New Mexico, but drivers dealt with snow and ice. One person died in a semi crash near Clines Corners.

About 116 storm-related injuries have been reported in Oklahoma, including 48 falls, the state health department said.

When not causing harm, the storm struck fear in residents.

In Dallas, iReporter Earl Wallace IV said he when he heard a loud crack and a rush of wind and ran out to find a large tree had fallen on two nearby homes.

“One of the homeowners emerged crying and talking on the phone,” said the 32-year-old creative director. “The tree had crashed down into her dining room. I felt nervous, shocked and scared for the families inside.”

Two homes were damaged — one with a giant hole in the roof — but no one was injured.

WFAA in Dallas reported that a portion of the Pier 121 Marina in Lewisville collapsed on top of boats. Two people were taken to hospitals when a carport collapsed in Fort Worth.

Getting ready

In Tennessee, Memphis Light, Gas and Water has 426,000 customers and is preparing for the worst. As of early Friday afternoon, about 5,000 customers were without power.

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