Unless you live in Florida, especially Marco Island, Florida where it’s currently 88 F degrees, it’s going to be a cold Friday.
A winter storm named Cleon, in which some forecasters say is the worst to hit the United States in years, has slammed the Midwest Friday, putting a wrench in travel plans and knocking out power for hundreds of thousands of customers.
The line of ice, snow and freezing temperatures stretch from the Southern Plains to the Ohio Valley and interior Northeast, with the worst of the precipitation starting near Dallas and headed through Arkansas and western Kentucky, according to forecasters at AccuWeather.com.
“Every few years there is a blockbuster ice storm somewhere in the U.S., and these storms are no stranger to the South Central region,” said Jesse Ferrell, weather expert and storm chaser for AccuWeather.com.
Forecasters expect up to a half-inch of freezing rain in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, with snow being dumped in some areas.
About 1,000 flights across the nation had been canceled early on Friday, and drivers are being warned to stay off the roads.
Southwest Airlines in Dallas canceled nearly 80 flights while Fort Worth-based American Airlines and American Eagle canceled nearly 500 flights through Friday morning.
According to Oncor, nearly 232,000 customers were without power in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area as of Friday morning. This is the largest concentration of outages, with scattered outages elsewhere in the state. Nearly 30,000 were without power in Arkansas, according to reports from energy companies.
In Tennessee, Memphis Light, Gas and Water has 426,000 customers and is ready for the worst.
“MLGW employees have been monitoring this winter storm situation and we have all of our resources in place should the winter weather hit Memphis and Shelby County,” said Jerry Collins Jr., the company’s president and CEO told CNN. “If indeed a significant storm blankets our city, we are ready to respond.”
Schools in various cities around the Midwest have canceled classes for Friday, including in Oklahoma City; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Little Rock, Arkansas; and Dallas, authorities said. Classes were also canceled for some counties in western Tennessee, including Shelby, Fayette and Dyer. The University of Arkansas were closing early or canceled classes entirely on Friday.
Despite warnings of dangerous driving conditions and salt trucks trying their best to keep roads clean and clear, dozens of spin-outs and accidents have already been reported.
In Fort Worth at interchange of I-35 and I-30 was shut down completely early Friday after several vehicles got stuck. “We’ve seen some problems with large rigs, particularly double-trailers, being stuck up there,” said Val Lopez, spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety, USA Today reports. “They seem to have more of a problem getting traction than other vehicles.”
FedEx said in a statement on Thursday, its 15 meteorologists are closely monitoring the severe winter storm moving across the country. “We have detailed contingency plans in place to help mitigate any delays,” FedEx spokeswoman Carla Boyd said in a statement.
Even after the freezing rain and snow passes in some areas, cold air will continue to bleed southward, with sleet and freezing rain continuing in a band from central Arkansas into west Tennessee, western and northern Kentucky and parts of southern Ohio. Residents will likely have to battle the icy roads through the weekend.
The North end of this band will transition, or continue as snow from the Ozarks into Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. Snow will also spread into northern and central Pennsylvania, as well as western and central New York.
Weather.com reports total snowfall over six inches will likely appear in the Ohio and Mississippi River area up the Ohio Valley into parts of Pennsylvania and possibly central New York.
Most of southern Missouri was under winter weather warnings. Forecasters expected up to 8 inches of snow by Friday evening.
Winter storm watches, warnings and an ice storm warning were in effect for Western Tennessee, which could see ice on the ground for a day or more. A state of emergency has been declared in the western and middle parts of The Volunteer State.
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Major ice storm heading for South and Midwest
Winter Storm Cleon is bringing heavy snowfall and icy conditions to large parts of the country, with the southern Plains and the Ohio Valley to be worst hit on Friday.