Nearly 40 million people remain under weather watches and warnings in the Northeast, down from 85 million Friday morning, as a winter storm makes its way eastward.
Snow fell across much of New York state, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine, with freezing rain and ice causing treacherous travel to the south in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The precipitation is expected to end Friday evening.
In the wake of the storm, more than 3,800 flights were canceled Friday, with several hundred canceled for Saturday, according to the tracking website FlightAware. About 260,000 customers are without power, stretching from Tennessee to Maine, according to PowerOutage.us.
At least seven people are dead across the country, including two in New Mexico, with others reported in Oklahoma, Missouri, Tennessee, Massachusetts, and in Alabama during what forecasters determined was a likely tornado.
More than 3 feet of snow piled up in one part of New Mexico. In the Midwest, more than a foot of snow fell across several states, with some areas in the Chicago metro area experiencing as many as 11 inches, forecasters said.
The expansive weather system – which spanned about 2,000 miles from the Rockies to New England – also created an ice storm that brought dangerous conditions from Arkansas through Ohio.
Tennessee is still dealing with more than 100,000 power outages after ice storms and threats of flooding.
In Texas, more than 10,000 homes and businesses were in the dark as of Friday afternoon.
The state’s power grid is under scrutiny following last year’s disastrous ice and snow storms that left thousands freezing due to power outages. This time, state leaders asserted the grid was prepared to handle the storm.
Gov. Greg Abbott said in a Thursday briefing the grid has “plenty of power available at this time,” calling the weather “one of the most significant icing events that we’ve had in the state of Texas in at least several decades.”
The storm’s path as it heads Northeast
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul urged residents to stay home because of ice on the roads.
“This storm is throwing everything at us – we have snow, we have freezing rain, we have sleet, we have icy roads,” Hochul said. “Our best advice is just to stay off the roads. They’re absolutely hazardous.”
The governor said most of the severe weather activity is expected to abate by Friday evening. “But, until then, it’s going to be literally a day full of freezing rain coming down,” she said.
New York City and Boston are under a winter weather advisory through Friday evening for freezing rain and sleet, respectively. Both cities, hit hard by heavy snow during last week’s powerful nor’easter, could experience ice piling up to a tenth of an inch. Parts of northeastern New Jersey are expected to see similar conditions.
The dangerous road conditions are expected to make travel difficult Friday, the NWS said, as it warned that power outages are also possible.
Ice projections are higher in Providence, Rhode Island, and sleet may pile up to a tenth of an inch.
“The interior parts of New England will mainly see snowfall, with northeast New York, northern Vermont, northern New Hampshire, and much of Maine will see over a foot of additional snowfall,” CNN meteorologist Robert Shackelford said.
Rochester, New York, had already experienced 10 inches of snowfall, with the possibility of another 4 to 8 inches.
Rain and snowfall records broken
“Widespread wind chills in Texas should be as low as -5, but some reports are coming in of wind chills as low as -15,” Shackelford said.
Gov. Abbott ensured Texans once again on Friday that the power supply will not run out.
The grid hit its peak demand at 69,000 megawatts Friday morning; however, the system now has an excess of 17,000 megawatts – enough power to supply 3 million homes across the state, he said during a briefing. This is expected to last at least through Friday and Saturday.
“The Texas electric grid is more reliable and more resilient than it has ever been,” Abbott said.
State officials at the news conference asked motorists to stay off the road because the ice is “stubborn” in many areas and black ice still remains an issue.
Since the icing began, state troopers have responded to more than 416 crashes that resulted in 49 serious injuries and three deaths, officials said.
The treacherous ice conditions in Texas have turned a stretch of I-10 near the city of Kerrville, which is northwest of San Antonio, into a parking lot, with a miles-long line of vehicles waiting for hours for two crashes to be cleared up.
Overnight, two separate 18-wheelers jackknifed on I-10, one near mile marker 501 eastbound and another near mile marker 513 westbound, due to ice on the road, William B. Thomas, Emergency Coordinator for Kerr County told CNN.
There were notable records set on Thursday:
- Dallas broke its daily record of snowfall, with a total of 1.5 inches – surpassing the previous record of .2 set in 1956 and 2011
- North Little Rock, Arkansas, got 3.2 inches of snow – a daily record, blowing past the previous one of .1 inch set in 1980
- Indianapolis saw a record snowfall of 7.3 inches, breaking the 6.5 inches that fell in 1982
- Louisville, Kentucky, got rainfall of 1.51 inches, beating 1.29 inches set in 1887
- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, tied its rainfall record of 1.02 inches that was set in 1939
Storm brings heavy rain, ice, tornado concerns and travel havoc
The steady rainfall led to flash flood warnings or flood watches in parts of Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee.
In Alabama, there were tornado watches in 14 counties, and the National Weather Service said it observed a tornado in Elmore County in east-central Alabama.
One person died in what the weather service called a “likely tornado” in Hale County, Alabama, county Emergency Management Director Russell Weeden told CNN affiliate WVTM. Several other people were also injured in that incident, he said.
The other two reported storm-related deaths were in New Mexico. One person died when a vehicle slid off a snow-covered road and flipped over 100 feet down a mountain in Bernalillo County, while a man was killed in a chain-reaction crash on Interstate 40 in Guadalupe County, officials said.
CNN’s Artemis Moshtaghian, Raja Razek, Andy Rose, Judson Jones, Steve Almasy, Holly Yan, Joe Sutton, Dave Hennen, Greg Wallace, Pete Muntean and Amanda Watts contributed to this report.