AN estimated 200 million Americans across 40 states are facing a freezing Valentine’s Day weekend as a vast winter blast with icy storms is set to hammer the country.
Currently winter weather alerts have been issued in 40 states with cold temperatures set to go as far south as Texas and Louisiana while snow, sleet and brutal wind chills will make it hazardous to leave your home in the northern part of the country.A snowplow clears a rural road of snow in Walla Walla, WashingtonCredit: AP:Associated Press An outdoor restaurant displays an 'Open' sign in Greenwich Village, New York CityCredit: Getty Images - Getty
Snow and freezing rain is expected to fall from Seattle, right across the country, to Washington DC and from North Dakota all the way down to Louisiana, according to meteorologist Marc Chenard, at the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.
Chenard said Friday: “Lots of winter weather. This is about as busy as you'll get for weather across the country.”
The Plains were already in the grip of bitterly cold conditions Friday, as freezing rain battered large parts of the country, including Fort Worth, Texas, where six people died in a multi-vehicle pileup.
Montana and Minnesota saw temperatures plummet to -45F while Bismarck in North Dakota saw the mercury drop to -26F.
“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 are also expected to see six inches or more of snow fall and freezing rain across Sunday and Monday, the weather service's Chenard said.Some 40 states are expected to be hit by the wintry conditions over the weekendCredit: Weather.com A pair of sledders slide down an icy hill in Cherokee Park in Louisville, Kentucky.Credit: Getty Images - Getty Even southern states such as Texas are expected to be hit by the wintry conditionsCredit: Weather.com
The snow and freezing rain which hit Portland, Oregon, and Seattle Friday is expected to linger into Saturday.
Washington DC, as well as Virginia and Maryland are expected to be hit by freezing rain by Saturday night, Chenard said, which could cause travel chaos and treacherous conditions.
“It shouldn't account for too much, but if it's freezing rain, that can cause issues even if it's light,” Chenard said.
Texas is due to be hit by snow and bitterly cold temperatures this weekend with the wintry conditions lasting into the early part of next week.
Officials in Houston warned residents 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 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.
Officials in the city plan to open a shelter for the homeless at the city’s convention center Sunday, according to mayor Sylvester Turner.
Houston residents have been advised to keep of the roads due to the wintry conditions.
Texas 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 Texas Panhandle some 12 inches of snow is expected and the wind chill factor could make the temperature feel like 25-30 degrees below Fahrenheit.
“It's going to be a mess,” said Lance Wood, a science operations officer with National Weather Service in the Houston area.
Thursday saw a huge crash on an icy Texas interstate involving more than 130 vehicles which left six people dead and dozens injured during a winter storm
“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 National Weather Service also 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 area, the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office said.
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.A person walks through the snow on the Capitol campus in Olympia, WashingtonCredit: AP:Associated Press First responders cleanup after a massive pileup on I-35W Thursday, near downtown Fort Worth, TexasCredit: AP:Associated Press The Gateway Arch is seen across from snow covered banks of the Mississippi River in St Louis, MissouriCredit: Reuters A Chinese couple brave the freezing temperatures to have a game of table tennis in Chinatown Columbus ParkCredit: Rex Features
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 on Saturday.
Travel in the entire region could be impossible and is strongly discouraged, the National Weather Service and city officials in Portland and Salem said.
Numerous Covid-19 vaccination sites, including those at the Oregon Convention Center and Portland International Airport and a site in southwest Washington’s Clark County have been closed for the weekend.
A winter storm warning is also in place for the greater Seattle area, where 2 to 8 inches of snow is expected along with winds gusting up to 40mph, as well as Olympia and Washington.
A pair of weekend storms are due to hit northern Nevada and the Sierra after a previous one that dropped a foot of snow overnight at Lake Tahoe.
The National Weather Service predicted up to 10 inches of snow could fall above 7,000ft while 65mph wind gusts could cause extensive tree damage.
Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt declared a state of emergency on Friday for all 77 of the state's counties ahead of a major winter storm expected to hit the state late Saturday night.
The National Weather Service predicts temperatures with wind chills of between -25 to -35 degrees on Monday and Tuesday.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards also declared a state of emergency Thursday due to heavy rainfall and the potential for wintry conditions this weekend and into next week.
The Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness urged Louisiana residents to plan for flash flooding and dangerous winter weather conditions.
“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 press release.
“Monitor the local news and updates from the National Weather Service and your local leaders, check on your neighbors and stay safe.”
Sites for Covid testing managed by Louisiana’s National Guard will close on Monday and Tuesday.Airplanes are seen on the tarmac of Portland International AirportCredit: Reuters