A sprawling winter storm will continue to coat parts of the Southern Plains and Southeast with ice and sleet through Thursday morning, bringing frigid temperatures and creating travel disruptions for millions, meteorologists said.
As of Tuesday morning, more than 21 million people from southeast New Mexico and much of Texas up to West Virginia were under a winter weather advisory, according to the National Weather Service.
The storm, which began on Monday, had already begun wreaking havoc on air travel. Nearly 1,000 flights within, into or out of the United States were canceled Tuesday, according to FlightAware, a flight-tracking company. Most of the cancellations were reported in Texas, including more than 400 flights at airports in Dallas and Austin.
Several rounds of mixed precipitation, mostly freezing rain and sleet, were predicted through the middle of the week. Ice accumulations of more than a quarter of an inch were expected from West Texas to western Tennessee, with isolated amounts of three-quarters of an inch.
“This amount of ice will likely lead to tree damage and scattered power outages across the hardest-hit regions,” meteorologists said in a weather advisory. “Sleet accumulations around a half-inch or locally higher are also possible from West Texas to Arkansas, which can also lead to treacherous travel.”
“First tip: don’t drive on icy roads,” he said on Twitter. “Period. Not worth it.”
The Austin Independent School District also canceled classes on Tuesday, and the city said it would provide shelters for those in need.
Other areas across the South were busy preparing for dangerous weather this week. Mayor Frank Scott Jr. of Little Rock, Ark., said Monday on Twitter that inclement weather crews were working 12-hour shifts. And in Nashville, schools were scheduled to open two hours late on Tuesday because of freezing rain in the forecast.
In West Virginia, the state’s office of emergency management suggested residents prepare ahead of the storm, including talking with employers about weather policies and gathering emergency supplies.
This winter has brought a mixed bag of weather to large swaths of the South. Last week, a tornado tore through communities southeast of Houston, destroying a senior assisted-living center and causing other damage. In Louisiana, three people were hospitalized with injuries after storms damaged mobile homes northwest of Baton Rouge. Earlier this month, at least eight people were killed after a string of severe storms and tornadoes roared through Alabama and Georgia.