A massive winter storm surged across the United States on Thursday, unleashing record-breaking levels of snow and freezing temperatures across the country.
Per CNN, the extreme climatic conditions have taken the lives of at least three people in weather-related incidents. The storm caused havoc for Americans from the Gulf to Canada. In the Midwest and Northeast, over 91 million citizens were given a weather warning of severe ice, snow, and sleet. Elsewhere, the southern states were hit by steady rain and the potential for twisters.
Airlines all over the United States were forced to cancel thousands of flights, and travel on the roads became a nightmarish experience. According to the National Weather Service snow map, one area of New Mexico suffered from more than three feet of snow, and several Midwestern states experienced more than a foot. Chicago metro was hit by 11 inches of snow in some areas.
Chicago resident David Dailey got stuck in the snow and told CNN, “Yeah, it’s frustrating. I wish that they would plow and I know we got some rain before the snow and sometimes it’s a little harder to salt, but the past couple of times we had snow it seems like they haven’t been really on top of it.”
The storm is ongoing and has created dangerously icy conditions from Arkansas through Ohio. According to Poweroutage.us, it has left more than 300,000 households without power across a huge area of the United States.
In Illinois, numerous traffic accidents forced the authorities to close parts of several highways. A spokesperson for the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, Kevin Sur, explained, “The combination of the volumes of snow, high winds, and frigid temperatures make travel near impossible in some areas of the state with several highways shut down from vehicle crashes and jack-knifed semi-trucks.”
In Texas, the storm proved to be a stern test of their power grid which was subject to catastrophic outages in 2021. Last February, an ice storm left thousands of Texans without power for weeks. Gov. Gregg Abbott explained in a statement on Thursday that the state’s power grid had “plenty of power available at this time.” However, Abbott did sound a note of caution when he called the weather system “one of the most significant icing events that we’ve had in the state of Texas in at least several decades.” The storm is now pushing further east and delivering a frigid mix of hazards. A weather service spokesperson explained, “The system will be prolonged with several rounds of winter weather through Friday for portions of the central U.S. before shifting to the interior Northeast.”