Millions without power as winter weather blasts the US

By Melissa Macaya, Meg Wagner, Mike Hayes and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 8:25 PM ET, Mon February 15, 2021
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12:56 p.m. ET, February 15, 2021

These cities are seeing their coldest temperatures in decades

From CNN's Brandon Miller

People walk down a street during a winter storm in Oklahoma City, Sunday, February 14.
People walk down a street during a winter storm in Oklahoma City, Sunday, February 14. Sue Ogrocki/AP

The winter weather outbreak is bringing the coldest air in decades to many locations across the Central US.

Here’s a sample of some of the lows:

  • Dallas dipped to 5 degrees, the coldest temperature the city has seen since 1989.
  • Oklahoma City hit -6 degrees, its coldest since 1989. The wind chill reached -29 degrees — a record.
  • Austin and San Antonio both had single-digit temperatures for the first time since 1989.
  • Corpus Christi, Texas, dipped down to 17 degrees, coldest since 1989.
  • Rapid City, South Dakota, has had five consecutive nights below -12 degrees. The last time this happened was in 1943.
  • The wind chill in Kansas City, Missouri, dipped to -32 degrees, the lowest since 1989.
  • Today will be the coldest day in Omaha, Nebraska, in 25 years.
12:24 p.m. ET, February 15, 2021

Parts of the South got ice and snow today. Here's where the winter storm is going next.

From CNN's Jackson Dill

The wintry weather has exited the southern Plains this morning, dumping more than a foot of snow in parts of Texas — but this event is only beginning in the eastern US.

Snow will continue to fall across the mid-Mississippi River Valley during the middle of today, impacting cities like Little Rock, Memphis, St. Louis and Louisville. Thundersnow may even be possible.

Meanwhile south and east of there, there's a concern for ice. Freezing rain or a wintry mix is expected across much of Mississippi, northwestern Alabama, central Tennessee, and eastern Kentucky through the end of today. This includes Jackson and Nashville.

Here's what we expect next:

  • Into this evening, a shield of light to moderate snow will expand toward the Great Lakes, with snow forecast as far north as Chicago, Detroit and the Canadian border in the Northeast. Icing will also persist as the storm tracks north and east, impacting the Ohio River Valley and parts of the mid-Atlantic, including Pennsylvania, northern New Jersey, and southern New York. For the first time in 11 years, an Ice Storm Warning has been issued for areas northwest of New York City, meaning that impactful icing is likely.
  • By Tuesday morning, a period of freezing rain will impact southern New England while a more prolonged time of icing will affect portions of central New York and New England. Moderate to heavy snow will be found to the north of there, spanning from upstate New York through central and northern Maine. The good news is warmer air will intrude from the south, helping to melt any of the icing across the Mid-Atlantic through southern New England.
  • By the end of the day Tuesday, the storm will depart New England, leaving behind cold air and some lingering snow showers across the interior Northeast.

Between now and Tuesday night, a widespread 8 to 12 inches of snowfall can be expected from central Arkansas through northern Maine.

12:19 p.m. ET, February 15, 2021

Nearly 80% of the lower 48 was below freezing this morning

From CNN's Brandon Miller

Winter weather is gripping the US coast to coast, and more than 1/3 of the continental US area was below zero this morning. More than 79% below freezing. 

Meanwhile, there was a 130-degree spread in temperatures across the US yesterday, from 90 degrees in Florida to -40 in parts of Wisconsin and Minnesota. While hundreds of record lows are being set in the Central US, Miami hit a record high heat index of 91 yesterday.

11:54 a.m. ET, February 15, 2021

Stay off the roads, even when the sun starts to shine, Houston official warns

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo urged residents to stay inside and off the roads — even if the sun is shining.

The Houston area has been hit especially hard in this snow and ice storm. Both airports are closed and city police responded to more than 130 traffic accidents Sunday night, Police Chief Art Acevedo said in a tweet late last night.

A 10-car pileup on Interstate 45, south of downtown, was just one of many incidents on icy roads.

"Please avoid traveling until this severe weather event subsides," Acevedo said.

11:49 a.m. ET, February 15, 2021

Dallas/Fort Worth suspends all inbound flights and Austin airport closes 

From CNN's Gregory Lemos  

Snow covers the streets after a storm Monday, February 15, in Fort Worth, Texas.
Snow covers the streets after a storm Monday, February 15, in Fort Worth, Texas. Yffy Yossifor/Star-Telegram/AP

Dallas/Fort Worth International and Austin-Bergstrom International Airports are the latest in a string of airports that have been impacted by the historic winter storm bearing down on the state of Texas.  

Dallas/Fort Worth International tweeted Monday that all inbound flights were being held at their location until at least 2:00 p.m. ET.  

Austin-Bergstrom said it was canceling all flights Monday and tweeted out a short of video snow falling on snow-covered airport grounds 

Houston's Hobby airport, who announced early Monday morning that it was closing,  an updated tweet said that it will not re-open until at least Tuesday afternoon. George Bush International, also in Houston, also announced early Monday it was closing and later tweeted it would reassess airfield conditions at 3:00 p.m. ET.  

In addition to the three Texas airports being affected by the storm, Jackson International Airport in Mississippi is closed as well.

11:31 a.m. ET, February 15, 2021

More than 240 cold temperature records could be broken by tomorrow night

From CNN's Hollie Silverman and Joe Sutton

Below freezing temperatures are forecast to affect more than 245 million people in the lower 48 states over the next seven days, with more than 50 million Americans expected to experience temperatures below zero.

The cold air is so widespread that you could travel nearly 2,000 miles from the Rio Grande on the Mexican border to the St. Lawrence River on the Canadian border entirely in winter storm warnings or watches.

There is the potential for more than 240 cold temperature records to be broken by Tuesday evening, and some records have already been shattered.

The heaviest snow in the East is expected to fall from the Mississippi Valley, through the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes. A total of 6 to 12 inches is expected by Tuesday evening from Arkansas to Upstate New York.

Oklahoma City has gone a record five days without climbing over 20 degrees Fahrenheit — they are not expected to top that temperature until Thursday, for a stretch of nine days.

"This cold snap is forecast to result in record low temperatures that are comparable to the historical cold snaps of Feb 1899 & 1905," according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
11:23 a.m. ET, February 15, 2021

Kentucky governor says there will be Covid-19 vaccination delays due to weather

From CNN’s Amanda Watts

People shovel ice and snow from a winter storm in front of shops on Frankfort Avenue in Louisville, Kentucky, Monday February 15.
People shovel ice and snow from a winter storm in front of shops on Frankfort Avenue in Louisville, Kentucky, Monday February 15. Pat McDonogh/Courier Journal/Imagn Content Services

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said the winter weather blanketing his state will cause some delays with Covid-19 vaccinations.

During a Monday morning news conference, Beshear said “this weather is going to slow down our vaccinations,” but he hopes that the state will be able to make up for it next week after the last of the weather dissipates.

As some locations across the state have to push back appointments, the governor said sites are prepared to scale up vaccination appointments next week. “We still hope we will be over 90% for the week, but wherever we are, that next week will be 120% or 135%, it's unfortunate but it's unavoidable." 

“We believe that we not only have the capacity, but this is going to be a good test, especially next week with what we're going to see about our ability to scale up, especially at these regional sites,” he said. “They've been designed to do two to three times more vaccinations than we currently have supply for.”

“We've been waiting for these vaccines for so long and it's unfortunate that it's going to push it back a week, but when we look at the at the long term trajectory a week isn't gonna slow us down," the governor added.

Beshear said he is not worried about any doses expiring as the state waits for the weather to pass, but the main concern is if any facilities that are storing doses lose power. “But they all have different agreements and different plans in place, whether they be generators or partners that they can take those doses to."

##Kentucky#

11:04 a.m. ET, February 15, 2021

More than 2.5 million are without power in Texas

From CNN's Dave Hennen|

A woman walks through falling snow in San Antonio, Sunday, February 14.
A woman walks through falling snow in San Antonio, Sunday, February 14. Eric Gay/AP

Winter weather is impacting much of the country, but Texas has been particularly hard hit. 

Here are some impacts that have been felt across the state:

  • Over 2.5 million are without power state-wide, including over a half million in the Dallas/Fort Worth metro alone, where current temperatures are in the single digits
  • The entire state is currently below freezing, with temperature ranging from 25 degrees in Brownsville in the south, to as cold as 15 degrees below zero in the Panhandle
  • San Angelo fell to 1 below zero this morning, which ties for their 2nd coldest temperature on record, with daily record lows set in many other locations including Lubbock, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio and Corpus Christi
  • Wind chill alerts cover most of the state with wind chill readings ranging from 20-30 degrees below zero in the Panhandle, 15-20 below in Dallas, 4 below in San Antonio and near 0 in Houston
  • Both Houston Hobby and Bush InterContinental airports are currently closed due to snow and ice
  • Much of the eastern half of the state, including Dallas, San Antonio, Austin, Houston, Corpus Christi and Brownsville remain under winter storm warnings, with very dangerous or near impossible travel conditions reported
  • Snow has fallen across much of the state, including over 10” in San Angelo, its snowiest day on record, 4” in Dallas to tie for the 7th snowiest day on record, and a trace of snow in Brownsville, only the 3rd time since 1898 that snow was reported

Read more about about the winter weather and its impacts here.

10:57 a.m. ET, February 15, 2021

"What we're facing is three winter storms in seven days," Kentucky state official says

From CNN's Amanda Watts

City workers use shovels to chip away at ice on the sidewalk in downtown Louisville on February 11, 2021 in Louisville, Kentucky.
City workers use shovels to chip away at ice on the sidewalk in downtown Louisville on February 11, 2021 in Louisville, Kentucky. Jon Cherry/Getty Images

“What we're facing is three winter storms in seven days,” Jim Gray, secretary of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet said during a Monday morning news conference.

Kentucky is currently experiencing it’s second storm of three.

“We had what amounted to an intermission, actually, between the winter storms this weekend,” Gray said. “That enabled our highway crews to get a bit of rest and make some headway in clearing fallen limbs and trees, for example, and restocking our salt supplies.” 

But Gray said that was just a short break. Later today, snowfall is anticipated to drop faster than road crews will be able to clear it.

Gov. Andy Beshear pleaded with residents to stay off the roads and to be aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning, “those are casualties we don't want to see. We did not make it through almost a year of a pandemic to lose people to a snow or an ice storm.”

Beshear said “The National Guard has been alerted and our soldiers are standing by with equipment ready to assist if necessary. In fact, we just had to stand up our first unit in Ashland, which is going to be going door to door to check on those that are more remote and have lost power and will be transporting people to warming stations, if necessary.”

Highway crews have been out “working under these difficult conditions,” Gray said, adding, “We have good equipment. We have great people. We have some 2,000 front line employees committed to this work today. More than 1,000 pieces of equipment, supplemented by 400 contract plow operators, but we still, despite this, we need everyone's help.” 

“We asked you to do your part,” Gray said. “The main thing you can do as a citizen is to stay off the roadways if you don't have to be on them.”