A major winter storm with millions of Americans in its path brought a mix of rain, freezing rain and snow to the central US as airlines cancelled thousands of flights, officials urged residents to stay off roads and schools closed campuses.
The blast of frigid weather, which arrived Tuesday night and continued Wednesday, put a long stretch of states from New Mexico and Colorado to Maine under winter storm warnings and watches. On Wednesday morning, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan saw freezing rain, sleet and snow.
By midday on Wednesday, some places had already reported snowfalls exceeding or nearing 30cm (11.8 inches), including the central Illinois town of Lewistown with 36.6cm (14.4 inches) and the northeastern Missouri city of Hannibal with 29.2cm (11.5 inches).
Areas south of the heavy snow were expected to see freezing rain, with the heaviest ice predicted along the lower Ohio Valley area from Louisville, Kentucky, to Memphis, Tennessee.
The disruptive storm moved across the central US on Groundhog Day, the same day famed groundhog Punxsutawney Phil predicted six more weeks of winter. The storm came on the heels of a nor’easter last weekend that brought blizzard conditions to many parts of the East Coast.
The storm’s path extended as far south as Texas, nearly a year after a catastrophic freeze buckled the state’s power grid in one of the worst blackouts in US history. The forecast did not call for the same prolonged and frigid temperatures as the February 2021 storm, and the National Weather Service said the system would, generally, not be as bad this time for Texas.
Airlines cancelled nearly 8,000 flights in the US scheduled for Wednesday or Thursday, the flight-tracking service FlightAware.com showed. Nearly 700 flights were cancelled on Thursday alone at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, and more than 300 were cancelled at nearby Dallas Love Field.