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Flights Canceled, at least 2 Dead as Ice Storm Freezes US
Flights Canceled, at least 2 Dead as Ice Storm Freezes US. On Tuesday, winter weather brought ice to a large area of the United States, canceling over 1,700 flights and clogging highways. Authorities say at least two individuals died on icy roads in Texas, while two law enforcement officials were critically hurt, including a deputy who was pinned under a truck.
On Tuesday, as the ice storm moved eastward, watches and warnings were issued from the western heel of Texas all the way to West Virginia. The government Weather Prediction Center predicted several rounds of mixed precipitation, including freezing rain and sleet, for several places through Wednesday, meaning some areas might be affected numerous times.
Hundreds of car accidents were reported across Texas, and Republican Gov. Greg Abbott encouraged people to remain off the highways. Authorities reported one person was killed in an early-morning pileup in Austin on Tuesday.
According to the Arlington Police Department, a 45-year-old man died Monday night after his SUV drove against a highway railing near Dallas in slick weather and rolled down an embankment.
According to the flight tracking service FlightAware, more than 900 flights to or from the major U.S. airport hub Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, and more than 250 flights to or from Dallas Love Field were canceled or delayed on Tuesday.
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By Tuesday afternoon, more than half of Tuesday’s scheduled flights had been canceled at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. Southwest Airlines, based in Dallas, canceled or delayed more than 560 flights on Tuesday, according to FlightAware.
Texas has about 7,000 power outages as of late Tuesday morning, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott said during a briefing on the worsening situation in Austin. He underlined that the outages were caused by causes such as ice on power lines or downed trees, rather than the Texas power grid’s performance, which buckled for days during a fatal winter storm in 2021.
Emergency trucks were strewn across the 1,600 roadways affected by the frost. According to the Travis County Sheriff’s Office, a sheriff’s deputy who stopped to assist the driver of an 18-wheeler that skidded off an icy highway on Tuesday was hit by a second vehicle, pinning him beneath one of its tires.
The deputy was pulled from the debris about 45 minutes after the incident on State Highway 130 and transferred to a hospital, where he remained in surgery Tuesday afternoon, according to officials. Officials believe the deputy will survive.
According to Steve McCraw, head of the Texas Department of Public Safety, a Texas state trooper was hospitalized with critical injuries after being struck by a driver who lost control of their vehicle in another incident.
“Roadways are really dangerous right now. “We cannot underscore this enough,” Abbott added. Memphis-Shelby County Schools stated Wednesday that classes will be canceled due to freezing rain and hazardous driving conditions as ice and sleet blanketed the city.
There are approximately 100,000 students in the school system. The University of Memphis has stated that it will announce Wednesday class schedules by 6 a.m. tomorrow. Because of the ice storm, Republican Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced a state of emergency in Arkansas on Tuesday.
Sanders stated in her proclamation that the “probability of several downed power lines” has created a backlog of deliveries by commercial vehicles. Interstate 40, one of Arkansas’ main thoroughfares, was ice-coated and “very hazardous” in the Forrest City region on Tuesday, according to the city’s fire department.
According to Division Chief Jeremy Sharp, the agency responded to two major incidents and roughly 15 lesser crashes Tuesday morning. Many of the crashes occur when drivers accelerate on the highway but lose control when they reach a bridge, according to him.
“They strike the ice and start wrecking,” he explained. “When I-40 shuts down like that, it may be hours of waiting,” said John Gadberry, who lives near the highway in Colt, Arkansas. “Due to its slight elevation, I-40 is frequently one of the first things to freeze over.”
The Arkansas Department of Transportation stated late Tuesday morning that I-40 had been cleared and traffic had resumed. Little Rock, Arkansas, and Memphis, Tennessee are linked by the highway.
According to National Weather Service meteorologist Marc Chenard, the storm began Monday as part of “multiple rounds” of wintry precipitation forecast across Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Tennessee through Wednesday.
“Generally light to moderate freezing rain with some quite big ice concentrations,” Chenard explained. “We’re anticipating ice accumulations of a quarter inch or greater as far south as Austin, Texas, up to Dallas, down to Little Rock, Arkansas, into Memphis, Tennessee, and even close to Nashville, Tennessee,” Chenard says.
The flight interruptions follow Southwest’s December collapse, which began with a winter storm but lasted long after most other airlines had recovered. Southwest canceled over 16,700 flights in the last ten days of the year, and the US Transportation Department is looking into it.
The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for much of Texas and southeastern Oklahoma, as well as an ice storm warning for much of Arkansas and western Tennessee. A winter weather advisory is in effect for much of the rest of Arkansas and Tennessee, as well as areas of Kentucky, West Virginia, and southern Indiana and Ohio.
Tuesday, schools and colleges in Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas planned to close or switch to virtual learning. Martin contributed reporting from Woodstock, Georgia. Sarah Brumfield in Silver Spring, Maryland, Andrew DeMillo in Little Rock, Arkansas, Ken Miller in Oklahoma City, Adrian Sainz in Memphis, and David Koenig in Dallas contributed to this report.
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