Flights canceled, at least 2 dead as ice storm freezes US

The Associated Press - February 1, 2023 8:57 am

By PAUL J. WEBER and JEFF MARTIN Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Winter weather brought ice to a wide swath of the United States on Tuesday, canceling more than 1,700 flights nationwide and snarling highways. At least two people died on slick roads in Texas and two law officers in the state were seriously injured, including a deputy who was pinned under a truck, authorities said.

As the ice storm advanced eastward on Tuesday, watches and warnings stretched from the western heel of Texas all the way to West Virginia. Several rounds of mixed precipitation — including freezing rain and sleet — were in store for many areas through Wednesday, meaning some regions could be hit multiple times, the federal Weather Prediction Center warned.

Dallas-based Southwest Airlines canceled more than 560 flights Tuesday and delayed more than 350 more, FlightAware reported.

The storm began Monday as part of an expected “several rounds” of wintry precipitation through Wednesday across Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Tennessee, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Marc Chenard.

“Generally light to moderate freezing rain resulting in some pretty significant ice amounts,” Chenard said.

“We’re expecting ice accumulations potentially a quarter inch or higher as far south as Austin, Texas, up to Dallas over to Little Rock, Arkansas, towards Memphis, Tennessee, and even getting close to Nashville, Tennessee,” according to Chenard.

The flight disruptions follow Southwest’s meltdown in December that began with a winter storm but continued after most other airlines had recovered. Southwest canceled about 16,700 flights over the last 10 days of the year, and the U.S. Transportation Department is investigating.

The weather service has issued a winter storm warning for a large swath of Texas and parts of southeastern Oklahoma and an ice storm warning across the midsection of Arkansas into western Tennessee.

A winter weather advisory is in place in much of the remainder of Arkansas and Tennessee and into much of Kentucky, West Virginia, and southern parts of Indiana and Ohio.

Schools and colleges in Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas planned to close or go to virtual learning Tuesday.

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Martin reported from Woodstock, Georgia. Associated Press writers 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.

 

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