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Bitter cold, snow, and freezing rain prompts 40 states to declare winter weather alerts

A fresh wave of wintry weather will keep a vast swath of the United States in a deep chill over Valentine’s Day weekend, forecasters said on Friday, as ice and freezing rain will make driving on the roads hazardous while snow accumulates in the Pacific Northwest.

As of Saturday, 40 states home to some 200 million Americans have placed winter weather alerts into effect as unseasonably cold temperatures are set to migrate as far south as Texas and Louisiana while snow, sleet, freezing rain, and brutal wind chills will make it hazardous to leave your home in the northern half of the country. 

Snow and freezing rain could fall from Seattle to Washington, DC, and from North Dakota to Louisiana, said meteorologist Marc Chenard at the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.

Most of the continental United States is experiencing below freezing temperatures on Saturday as forecasters predict a brutal weekend stretching from the Pacific Northwest all the way to the Northeast and New England

This weekend, winter weather alerts are in effect for 40 states, including areas of Texas and Louisiana, which normally experience mild winters

This weekend, winter weather alerts are in effect for 40 states, including areas of Texas and Louisiana, which normally experience mild winters

Winter storm warnings and advisories are in effect for areas stretching from Appalachia and the Midwest toward the South, the Great Plains, and the Rocky Mountain states

Winter storm warnings and advisories are in effect for areas stretching from Appalachia and the Midwest toward the South, the Great Plains, and the Rocky Mountain states

Most of the eastern half of the United States can expect to see some accumulation through the weekend, according to meteorologists

Most of the eastern half of the United States can expect to see some accumulation through the weekend, according to meteorologists

Forecasters are predicting snow, ice, and wind gusts for wide swaths of Texas and neighboring Oklahoma on Sunday

Forecasters are predicting snow, ice, and wind gusts for wide swaths of Texas and neighboring Oklahoma on Sunday

Rare snowfall is also in the forecast this weekend for the Pacific Northwest, including Seattle and Portland, Oregon

Rare snowfall is also in the forecast this weekend for the Pacific Northwest, including Seattle and Portland, Oregon

Cold Arctic air is expected to push through most of the continental United States this weekend

Cold Arctic air is expected to push through most of the continental United States this weekend

‘Lots of winter weather. This is about as busy as you’ll get for weather across the country,’ Chenard said on Friday.

Bitter cold was already gripping the Plains on Friday, just a day after winter weather battered the United Statesfrom coast to coast, including freezing rain as far south as Fort Worth, Texas, where six people died in a multi-vehicle pileup.

Temperatures as low as minus 45 degrees Fahrenheit gripped Montana and Minnesota as cities such as Bismarck, North Dakota, shivered at minus 26 F.

‘North Dakota is all fun and games until you have to be working in negative 40 degree weather,’ @BricFlare wrote in a Twitter post.

The Plains states will see significant snowfalls of 6 or more inches and freezing rain from Sunday into Monday, the weather service’s Chenard said, with the threat of freezing rain as far south as Houston and Louisiana.

In the Northwest, snow and freezing rain blasting Portland, Oregon, and Seattle on Friday was expected to linger into Saturday.

By Saturday night, freezing rain was expected in areas around the nation’s capital, including Virginia and Maryland, Chenard said.

A wintry mix was expected to pelt the Northeast, where accumulations were expected to be minimal, although any slickness on roadways heightens travel risks.

‘It shouldn’t account for too much, but if it’s freezing rain, that can cause issues even if it’s light,” Chenard said.

Areas that aren't accustomed to seeing snow accumulations including Seattle and Portland, Oregon are due to see the white stuff this weekend

Areas that aren’t accustomed to seeing snow accumulations including Seattle and Portland, Oregon are due to see the white stuff this weekend

As of Saturday morning, snow was falling in the Pacific Northwest as well as parts of California, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, and even elevated sections of Arizona

As of Saturday morning, snow was falling in the Pacific Northwest as well as parts of California, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, and even elevated sections of Arizona

Temperatures are expected to plummet to below zero in parts of Wyoming and Montana, according to forecasters

Temperatures are expected to plummet to below zero in parts of Wyoming and Montana, according to forecasters

Several inches of snow are expected in inland Washington State and Oregon as well as Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah

Several inches of snow are expected in inland Washington State and Oregon as well as Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah

A major winter storm was expected to dump freezing rain and snowfall with bitterly cold temperatures over many parts of Texas this weekend through early next week, prompting Houston officials to advise residents on Friday to prepare for power outages and hazardous roads that could be similar to those experienced in the wake of a Category 5 hurricane.

Houston, which earlier this week had high temperatures in the 70s Fahrenheit and usually has mild winters, was forecast to have its coldest temperatures in 30 years.

Temperatures in Houston late Monday night into early Tuesday morning were expected to dip to 15 degrees Fahrenheit.

‘It’s a serious event, and we want to treat it the same way we would if a hurricane were to (be) forecast and land here,’ said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, the top elected official in the county where Houston is located.

Mayor Sylvester Turner said officials planned on Sunday to open a shelter at the city’s convention center for Houston’s homeless population.

Turner advised residents to stay off the roads as freezing rain, sleet and possibly even snow was forecast for Sunday and Monday. Snowfall is rare for the Houston area.

But no part of the state was expected to escape this blast of winter weather. On Friday, Governor Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration for all of the state’s 254 counties ahead of the storm and said state resources, including equipment and personnel, would be deployed.

In the Dallas-Fort Worth area, heavy snowfall was forecast for late Sunday into Monday.

In the Texas Panhandle, the wind chill factor from Sunday through Tuesday could dip to 25 to 30 degrees below zero Fahrenheit in some locations, along with snowfall of up to 12 inches.

Authorities are warning residents of states in the eastern half of the country to stay off the roads due to expected ice accumulations

Authorities are warning residents of states in the eastern half of the country to stay off the roads due to expected ice accumulations

On Saturday, tens of thousands of residents of West Virginia were without power due to ice storms that affected the area on Thursday and Friday

On Saturday, tens of thousands of residents of West Virginia were without power due to ice storms that affected the area on Thursday and Friday

Accumulation of snow, rain, ice, and sleet were in the forecast for the Midwest, Appalachia, the South, and the Atlantic coast

Accumulation of snow, rain, ice, and sleet were in the forecast for the Midwest, Appalachia, the South, and the Atlantic coast

Snow, sleet, and freezing rain are expected to affect travel throughout New England, the Northeast, and Appalachia

Snow, sleet, and freezing rain are expected to affect travel throughout New England, the Northeast, and Appalachia

Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Maine were all readying for varying levels of snow accumulation

Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Maine were all readying for varying levels of snow accumulation

As of Saturday morning, snowfall was reported in the Midwest and Great Plains while rain hit the Southeast

As of Saturday morning, snowfall was reported in the Midwest and Great Plains while rain hit the Southeast

Even in deep South Texas, which also typically has mild winters, temperatures early Tuesday morning were expected to be in the 20s Fahrenheit range.

‘It’s going to be a mess,’ said Lance Wood, a science operations officer with National Weather Service in the Houston area.

A massive crash involving more than 130 vehicles on an icy Texas interstate left six people dead and dozens injured on Thursday amid a winter storm that dropped freezing rain, sleet and snow.

At the scene of the crash on Interstate 35 near downtown Fort Worth, a tangle of semitrailers, cars and trucks had smashed into each other and had turned every which way, with some vehicles on top of others.

‘There were multiple people that were trapped within the confines of their vehicles and requiring the use of hydraulic rescue equipment to successfully extricate them,’ said Fort Worth Fire Chief Jim Davis.

The Pacific Northwest started seeing more snow and some freezing rain Friday afternoon after snow fell in parts of Washington and Oregon on Thursday.

The National Weather Service issued an ice storm warning Friday for Oregon’s Central Willamette Valley including Salem and for the southern Portland metro and a winter storm warning for the Portland/Vancouver, Washington areas.

After 5pm freezing rain had started to fall in places around the Portland metro area, the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office said.

Some roads were closed because of crashes and on southbound Interstate 205 a semi truck jackknifed, leading to a large traffic backup.

Early in the morning a person standing next to a garbage can warming fire on Pike and 1st street in Seattle on Saturday

Early in the morning a person standing next to a garbage can warming fire on Pike and 1st street in Seattle on Saturday

The image above shows rare snowfall near the Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle early on Saturday morning

The image above shows rare snowfall near the Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle early on Saturday morning

Two kids are seen above with their sled during cold weather in St. Louis, Missouri, on Friday. Temperatures are expected to plummet in St. Louis this weekend to lows of zero with wind chills at minus 12

Two kids are seen above with their sled during cold weather in St. Louis, Missouri, on Friday. Temperatures are expected to plummet in St. Louis this weekend to lows of zero with wind chills at minus 12

Interstate 84 in the Columbia River Gorge between Troutdale and Hood River was closed by 9pm on Friday, state Department of Transportation officials said.

‘Deteriorating weather is making driving too dangerous with high winds and heavy snow. We’ll reopen the interstate only when it is safe to do so,’ the agency said on Twitter.

The National Weather Service said an additional 4 to 8 inches of snow could fall in the Portland area with another foot in the Cascades through Saturday.

Weather Service meteorologist Colby Newman told the Statesman Journal in Salem that ice accumulation expected there would make roads dangerous and weigh heavily on trees and power lines, potentially resulting in widespread power outages.

‘We don’t get this much ice very often, and it’s a difficult situation because it can leave people without power, in the cold, for an extended period,’ Newman said.

‘It’s probably a bigger deal than a snowstorm.’

Travel in the entire region could be impossible and is strongly discouraged, the National Weather Service and city officials in Portland and Salem said.

The weather also prompted school districts in the Portland/Vancouver area, Willamette Valley, and Columbia River Gorge to shut buildings and cancel in-person activities Friday.

Multiple COVID-19 vaccination sites, including those at the Oregon Convention Center and Portland International Airport and a site in southwest Washington’s Clark County are closed for the weekend.

A winter storm warning is also in effect for the greater Seattle area where 2 to 8 inches of snow was expected along with winds gusting to 40 mph.

Aidin Weber, 18, of Clarkston, Washington leaps over his younger brother, David, 13, as he sleds down a hill at Sunset Park in Lewiston, Idaho on Friday

Aidin Weber, 18, of Clarkston, Washington leaps over his younger brother, David, 13, as he sleds down a hill at Sunset Park in Lewiston, Idaho on Friday

A man walks along a snowy path on Friday as temperatures hovered close to zero degrees at Shawnee Mission Park in Shawnee, Kansas. Temperatures were expected to fall to as low as -17 degrees by Monday as a winter storm moves through the area

A man walks along a snowy path on Friday as temperatures hovered close to zero degrees at Shawnee Mission Park in Shawnee, Kansas. Temperatures were expected to fall to as low as -17 degrees by Monday as a winter storm moves through the area

A winter storm warning for the region including Olympia, Washington predicted up to nearly a foot of snow into Saturday after that city received more than 6 inches in some places on Thursday.

A pair of weekend storms are expected to follow across much of northern Nevada and the Sierra on the heels of one that dropped a foot of snow overnight at Lake Tahoe ski resorts.

A winter weather advisory is in effect from 10pm on Friday to 10am on Saturday for the Tahoe area, where up to 6 inches of snow is expected at lake level and up to 10 inches above 7,000 feet, the National Weather Service said.

Winds gusting up to 65 mph could cause extensive tree damage.

Snow levels could drop below 5,000 feet with winds gusting to 50 mph from Reno as far south as Yerington and east as Lovelock.

The advisory extends until 10pm on Saturday for most of northeast Nevada. One to eight inches of snow is forecast from Austin to Elko. A foot is possible in the Ruby Mountains.

Mammoth Mountain south of Yosemite National Park reported 18 inches of snow early Friday, 16 inches at Alpine Meadows on Tahoe’s west shore and a foot at North Star at Truckee, California and South Lake Tahoe.

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt declaring a state of emergency on Friday for all 77 of the state’s counties ahead of a major winter storm expected to push into the state during the weekend.

The declaration suspends requirements for oversized vehicles used for emergency relief and utility restoration. It also activates the state’s Emergency Operations Plan and allows state agencies to make storm-related emergency acquisitions without regard to bidding requirements.

The storm is expected to begin pushing into the state late Saturday night and bring heavy snowfall and high winds that will reduce visibility and make travel difficult.

The Washington State Capitol wears a dusting of snow after about four inches fell the previous day in Olympia on Friday

The Washington State Capitol wears a dusting of snow after about four inches fell the previous day in Olympia on Friday

A person walks through the snow at the Capitol in Olympia, Washington on Thursday. Winter weather is expected throughout the Puget Sound region through the weekend

A person walks through the snow at the Capitol in Olympia, Washington on Thursday. Winter weather is expected throughout the Puget Sound region through the weekend

Vehicles dowsed in snow are parked in the parking lot off Mose Avenue in Odessa, Texas on Friday

Vehicles dowsed in snow are parked in the parking lot off Mose Avenue in Odessa, Texas on Friday

Motorist drive east on Texas State Highway 191 headed towards Midland from Odessa, Texas on Friday

Motorist drive east on Texas State Highway 191 headed towards Midland from Odessa, Texas on Friday

The National Weather Service predicts bitter cold temperatures with wind chills of between -25 to -35 degrees on Monday and Tuesday.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards on Thursday declared a state of emergency due to heavy rainfall and the potential for wintry conditions this weekend and into next week.

While the forecast is still uncertain, the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness urged Louisiana residents to plan for flash flooding and dangerous winter weather conditions.

The National Weather Service warns an arctic high pressure system is pushing south, bringing the coldest air of the season to parts of the state.

‘Already in Louisiana we have communities that have seen the impacts of flash flooding and water on the roadways, and there is the potential for worse weather and bad conditions as the days go on. Now is the time for people to make a plan for the coming days that could include staying at home during severe weather,’ Edwards said in a news release.

‘Monitor the local news and updates from the National Weather Service and your local leaders, check on your neighbors and stay safe.’

Community sites for COVID testing managed by Louisiana’s National Guard will close on Monday and Tuesday.

Some West Virginia customers could be spending part of Valentine’s Day in the dark as utility crews try to restore power from a midweek winter storm.

A man is pictured through frozen icicles as waits to catch a wave in the frigid ice-cold waters of Lake Ontario during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Friday

A man is pictured through frozen icicles as waits to catch a wave in the frigid ice-cold waters of Lake Ontario during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Friday

A man surfs in the frigid ice-cold waters of Lake Ontario in Toronto on Friday. The temperatures in Toronto this weekend are expected to drop as low as 14 degrees

A man surfs in the frigid ice-cold waters of Lake Ontario in Toronto on Friday. The temperatures in Toronto this weekend are expected to drop as low as 14 degrees

Appalachian Power said that nearly 28,000 customers in southern West Virginia remained without electricity Friday. That includes 13,000 customers in Cabell County, 6,200 in Wayne County and 4,900 in Putnam County.

A combination of ice and snow brought down tree limbs on Wednesday night and Thursday. Appalachian Power has nearly 700 workers trying to restore power.

‘Ice continues to weigh down trees and limbs continue to break, which has led to additional damage and new outages through the day,’ the company said in a statement.

The utility said power may not be restored for some customers until Saturday night in Jackson and Mason counties and until Sunday evening in Cabell, Lincoln, Putnam and Wayne counties. 


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