Treacherous road conditions are now linked to three deaths in Texas as a wave of ice and sleet continues to pound parts of the southern and central U.S. into the night hours.
A 49-year-old woman was killed this week when she lost control of her truck on an icy road north of Eldorado, the Texas Department of Public Safety told CNN Wednesday.
Two other deaths were previously linked to the storm that blanketed Texas towns with sleet or ice. In south Austin, one person died Tuesday morning in a 10-car collision, the city’s fire department said. Another person died when their car flipped over in the town of Arlington near Dallas, police said.
The dangerous conditions are not over yet. A nasty combination of freezing rain, sleet and accumulating ice is expected to hit parts of Texas, Arkansas and Tennessee through Thursday morning, forecasters said.
“Road conditions will be terrible after sunset and at night,” says the National Weather Service in Fort Worth said. “DO NOT GO ON THE ROAD.”
As of Monday, more than an inch of sleet has already piled up in parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky and Illinois.
In Texas alone, more than 350,000 homes, businesses and other energy customers were without electricity in the frigid Wednesday night, according to PowerOutage.US.
Ice downed several trees and large tree branches on Wednesday, knocking out power in the Austin metro area, the National Weather Service said.
Dangerous conditions prompted the Parkland Health system in Dallas to extend the closure of its clinics on Thursday.
Here’s what’s on tap in the south and central US:
• Texas: The state has seen heavy freezing rain all Wednesday that will continue steadily in much of northern and central Texas to overnight as temperatures remain below freezing.
• South Oklahoma: The black ice will continue to move across the region and will last until Thursday morning.
• South Central Arkansas and the Memphis area of Tennessee: An additional tenth to quarter inch of ice could accumulate into Thursday morning.
• Throughout the region: Total ice accumulation of at least a quarter inch is likely from west Texas to west Tennessee through Thursday morning. In parts of central and north-central Texas and southern Arkansas, up to half an inch may accumulate, according to the National Weather Service.
• Widespread flight cancellations: More than 2,400 flights in, to or from the US were canceled on Wednesday, according to tracking website FlightAware.
In a state unaccustomed to heavy ice, a group of Jeep enthusiasts used their vehicles to help stranded drivers.
The Dallas-based “Carnales Off Road” group regularly supports those in need, founder Jorge Coronilla Muñiz told CNN.
“It’s not the first time we’ve done this in bad weather. We try to help as often as possible,” Muñiz said.
Several semi trucks got stuck on Interstate 20 Tuesday and about 30 jeeps helped tow them.
“Before we got to I-20, we also helped a few other cars that were stuck in the street,” Muniz said. “Eventually we hit the stop on Interstate 20 and helped another 20 trucks.”
Muñiz said he and other group members helped stranded motorists from early Tuesday morning until 10 p.m.
“Everyone was very grateful for our help, especially the truck drivers. Some even asked if we would charge them for the help, but we said we were just there to help.”
The group is back on the road on Wednesday and will help medical professionals struggling to get to and from work, Muñiz said.
More than 12 million people in parts of southeast Oklahoma, southern Missouri, central and eastern Arkansas, western Tennessee, northwest Mississippi and Texas will be warned of ice storms on Wednesday.
The weather service issues ice storm warnings when ice accumulations greater than a quarter of an inch are possible.
Unsafe travel conditions led to hundreds of car accidents across Texas on Tuesday, officials said. Emergency workers came to the aid of people who were hypothermic or injured after slipping on ice. The Texas National Guard is ready to assist stranded motorists, clear roads and conduct welfare checks, Governor Greg Abbott said. And Texas Parks and Wildlife has at least 30 rescuers ready for search and rescue.
Meanwhile, a separate storm system will also plummet temperatures in the northeast.
The National Weather Service is forecasting “dangerously cold temperatures” across the region on Friday and Saturday, with wind chills that could cause frostbite in just 10 minutes. said.
“Limit time outdoors and cover all skin when you go outside,” the service added.
The service predicts chills of -20 to -35 degrees Fahrenheit early Friday to hit parts of New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, while Saturday morning could bring chills of -60 degrees Fahrenheit to northern New England, the agency said. weather service.
According to reports from governors, leaders in states including Rhode Island, Connecticut and Maine were coordinating resources to anticipate extreme weather and establish warming centers.
“Temperatures this weekend will be extremely — and dangerously — cold throughout the state,” Maine Governor Janet Mills said in a press release Tuesday. “Take extra precautions, be careful when you go out and check on your family, friends and neighbors to make sure everything is okay.”