January 31, 2023 Ice storm hits the South and central US

By Adrienne Vogt, Maureen Chowdhury and Tori B. Powell, CNN

Updated 9:59 p.m. ET, January 31, 2023
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3:00 p.m. ET, January 31, 2023

1 dead in 10-car pileup in Austin, according to fire department

From CNN’s Chris Boyette

Cars involved in a multi-vehicle fatal accident sit on an on ramp in Austin, Texas, on Tuesday.
Cars involved in a multi-vehicle fatal accident sit on an on ramp in Austin, Texas, on Tuesday. (Jay Janner /Austin American-Statesman/AP)

One person is dead after a 10-car pileup in south Austin, according to the Austin Fire Department.

“Advise motorists not to get out of their vehicle if involved in a collision on ice. Safest place is in the protection of car until first responders arrive,” AFD tweeted

Elsewhere in the city, AFD said one of its trucks was struck by vehicle while on the scene of another collision.

Austin-Travis County EMS (ATCEMS) said another multi-vehicle collision due to icing on State Highway 130 northeast of Austin resulted in two trauma patients transported to a nearby hospital after going over an overpass bridge.

One person had exited their vehicle, was struck by a car and went over the bridge, according to ATCEMS Capt. Darren Noak. Another person saw a vehicle sliding toward them and jumped off the bridge to avoid being hit, Noak said.

Both suffered “serious potentially life-threatening injuries,” according to ATCEMS.

As of 9:45 a.m. CT, emergency crews were actively responding or on the scene of three rollovers, eight traffic injuries and two vehicle rescues, Noak said.

The EMS service warned people to stay home for safety reasons.  

11:20 a.m. ET, January 31, 2023

Tractor-trailer crashes during icy conditions in Arkansas

From CNN’s Caroll Alvarado

Officials in Forrest City, Arkansas, warned drivers that they should not travel if they don't have to.

Interstate 40 and Highway 70 are "very icy," leading to "extremely hazardous driving conditions." The fire department shared photos of the aftermath of a large truck getting into an accident.

10:58 a.m. ET, January 31, 2023

How to avoid carbon monoxide exposure during the winter storm

Medics from the Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services say they are responding to a call for carbon monoxide exposure during the winter storm.

"Please remember, CO is an odorless/tasteless gas that can be deadly. DO NOT use stoves, ovens, or portable grills to heat your home. If using a generator, do so where there is sufficient ventilation," it tweeted.

While power outages are limited right now, keep these tips in mind if you lose power during the storm:

  • Carbon dioxide is found in fumes produced any time you burn fuel in cars or trucks, small engines, stoves, lanterns, grills, fireplaces, gas ranges, or furnaces, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Portable generators should never be used indoors. This includes use inside a garage, carport, basement, crawl space and other enclosed or partially enclosed areas, even those with ventilation.
  • Don't run cars or trucks inside attached garages, even if the door is left open. People also should not heat their homes with gas ovens or burn anything in a stove or fireplace that isn’t vented, the CDC advises.
  • Even using devices outside of the home comes with a caution that you stay more than 20 feet from a window, door or vent, to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning when using a generator, charcoal grill or camp stove.
  • If you’re suffering from carbon dioxide poisoning, you could experience flu-like symptoms such as headache, dizziness or weakness. Anyone who is running a different heat or power source and is feeling unwell should get to fresh air immediately.
12:58 p.m. ET, January 31, 2023

Driving in a winter storm can be dangerous. Follow these safety tips if you must go out.

From CNN's Alaa Elassar

Cars drive down an icy highway as cold weather moves through Dallas on January 31.
Cars drive down an icy highway as cold weather moves through Dallas on January 31. (Shelby Tauber/Reuters)

A winter storm is bearing down across the South this week, and today is expected to be the toughest day for driving as Texas bridges and roads become icy, according to the National Weather Service’s Fort Worth office. Drivers in Dallas, San Antonio and Austin can expect dangerous conditions on roads.

Driving in a snowstorm is difficult. Add wind gusts and poor visibility, and travel can become downright dangerous.

If you have to drive, here are a few tips for staying safe in winter weather:

  • Pack a winter driving kit: If motorists have any problems with their car’s battery, brakes, heating and cooling system or ignition system, they should try to stay off the roads. For those who must go out, it’s important to plan. The AAA recommends motorists pack a winter driving kit that includes a bag of abrasive material (sand, salt or cat litter), a snow shovel, traction mats, an ice scrape, booster cables and other essentials.
  • Drive slowly with headlights on low and avoid frequent stops: When driving in conditions with low visibility, motorists should proceed slowly with their headlights on low beam, the AAA advises. The AAA also recommends drivers avoid stopping if possible. Instead, motorists should drive slowly so their car keeps rolling without requiring a full stop.
  • Keep as much distance between your and other cars: To safely brake if necessary on ice or snow, the AAA advises drivers increase following distances to 8 to 10 seconds. On highways, drivers should not change lanes often, as they can lose control driving over snow that gathers between lanes.

Read more tips on driving safely in winter weather here.

10:24 a.m. ET, January 31, 2023

Dallas Zoo closed through Wednesday due to icy conditions

From CNN's Andi Babineau

The Dallas Zoo will remain closed through Wednesday because of winter weather conditions in the region, according to an announcement from the zoo.

"Due to continued icy and inclement weather conditions, the Zoo will remain closed tomorrow, Tuesday, Jan. 31 and Wednesday, Feb. 1," it posted to its Facebook page. "As always, our animals will remain warm and cozy in their indoor habitats, and we hope you do too."

The Dallas Zoo has been the subject of several incidents recently, including the tampering of its leopard and monkey habitats and the "suspicious" death of an endangered vulture. On Monday, the zoo said it believes two of its emperor tamarin monkeys have been stolen.

1:56 p.m. ET, January 31, 2023

Dallas authorities respond to more than 350 emergency calls and traffic accidents as ice storm rolls in

From CNN’s Ashley Killough, Ed Lavandera and Tina Burnside 

An icy mix covers Highway 114 in Roanoke, Texas, on Monday.
An icy mix covers Highway 114 in Roanoke, Texas, on Monday. (Smiley N. Pool/The Dallas Morning News via AP)

Dallas Police received 371 accident-related calls Monday as ice began accumulating across the state, according to police spokesperson Brian E. Martinez. 

From 7 a.m. Monday to 7 a.m. local time Tuesday, Dallas Fire-Rescue (DFR) responded to at least 146 motor vehicle accidents. 

“While there are likely a lot more, this number reflects the number of incidents we were dispatched to. In the case of several responses (mostly on the highways) there were multiple accidents observed upon arrival,” DFR spokesperson Jason L. Evans said. 

Meanwhile, in the broader Dallas-Fort Worth area, MedStar tweeted that emergency medical crews responded to 142 traffic accidents, including 16 rollover crashes, eight patients suffering from hypothermia, and nine patients injured in falls from slipping on ice. 

9:46 a.m. ET, January 31, 2023

1,000 flights already canceled as ice and freezing rain affect portions of the South

From CNN's Robert Shackelford

More than 1,000 flights were canceled across the United States Tuesday, according to flight-tracking site FlightAware, as extreme winter weather affects parts of the country.

Nearly 300 flights have been canceled departing Dallas-Fort Worth International and almost 70 flights have been canceled departing Dallas Love Field. Other notable cancellations are over 80 flights departing Austin-Bergstrom International and 45 flights departing Nashville.

The first wave of freezing rain and sleet will begin to weaken after moving through central Tennessee, central Kentucky and southern West Virginia.

Another round of freezing rain and ice will begin throughout much of Texas at daybreak on Tuesday and head to Oklahoma by the mid-morning, and head to Little Rock, Memphis and Nashville through the day Tuesday.

9:03 a.m. ET, January 31, 2023

Freezing rainfall rates are increasing across Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas, Storm Prediction Center says

From CNN's Haley Brink

Freezing rain falling at rates of more than .05 inches per hour is expected from central Texas, southeastern Oklahoma and portions of Arkansas, the Storm Prediction Center wrote in a forecast discussion this morning.

Temperatures across much of Texas are near or below freezing, so any precipitation that falls this morning will be in the form of freezing rain or sleet. Some of these storms are also convective in nature, so thundersleet is likely — especially south of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex — according to the National Weather Service office in Fort Worth.

The storms will continue to spread in coverage, spreading northeast across southern Oklahoma and western Arkansas through late morning to midday, the storm center added.

This will lead to worsening impacts on roads and travel as well as power outage potential from falling trees and power lines.

1:56 p.m. ET, January 31, 2023

Dangerous ice storm is expected to intensify across Texas through Tennessee

From CNN's Haley Brink

An icy mix covers a subdivision in Roanoke, Texas, on Monday.
An icy mix covers a subdivision in Roanoke, Texas, on Monday. (Smiley N. Pool/The Dallas Morning News via AP)

More than 40 million people remain under winter storm alerts this morning, which include ice storm warnings, winter storm warnings, and winter weather advisories that stretch from southeastern New Mexico to West Virginia. 

Additional rounds of heavy icing are expected today across portions of Texas through the Tennessee River Valley. 

Cities under the ice storm warnings include Memphis and Little Rock. Meanwhile, Dallas, San Antonio, San Angelo and Waco remain under winter storm warnings.

“Multiple rounds of wintry precipitation are forecast, with brief lulls followed by bursts of sleet and freezing rain that could drastically deteriorate road conditions,” the Weather Prediction Center said this morning.

Ice accumulations of one-tenth of an inch to three-tenths of an inch have already been recorded across portions of Arkansas, Texas and Kentucky since yesterday. 

“The Tuesday morning commute could become treacherous, especially in areas where residual moisture/slush from yesterday's wave of precipitation has refrozen,” the National Weather Service office in Fort Worth said.

The heaviest ice accumulation of one to three quarters of an inch is forecast across a large portions of Texas through Thursday morning. However, a more widespread swath of one quarter of an inch of ice is possible across southern Oklahoma, Arkansas, northwestern Mississippi and portions of Tennessee.

“The next widespread wave of precipitation looks to develop by late Tuesday night into Wednesday morning,” the weather service office in Fort Worth said. “Wednesday night and Thursday should be the final hurrah of this prolonged Winter Storm.”