Winter ice storm: The deadly weather crippling much of the South leaves more than 300,000 Texans without power in the frigid cold


Treacherous road conditions are now linked to three deaths in Texas as an ice and sleet wave continues to pound parts of the southern and central US 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 on Wednesday.

Two other deaths were previously linked to the storm, which blanketed Texas cities in sleet or ice. In south Austin, one person died in a ten-car pile-up Tuesday morning, the city fire department said. Another person died when their car rolled over in the Dallas-area city of Arlington, 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 at least Thursday morning, forecasters said.

“Road conditions will be terrible after sunset and overnight,” Fort Worth’s National Weather Service said said. “DO NOT BE ON THE STREETS.”

More than an inch of sleet has accumulated in parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky and Illinois since Monday.

In Texas alone, more than 350,000 homes, businesses and other electricity customers were without power according to PowerOutage.US on the freezing Wednesday night.

Ice toppled several trees and large branches Wednesday, causing power outages in the greater Austin area, the National Weather Service said.

Dangerous conditions prompted Parkland Health System in Dallas to extend the closure of its clinics Thursday.

An 18-wheeler skidded off Interstate 20 and crashed into the median in Van, Texas on Wednesday.

The following is available in the southern and central US:

• Texas: The state experienced heavy freezing rain throughout Wednesday that is expected to continue steadily overnight across much of north and central Texas as temperatures remain below freezing.

• Southern Oklahoma: Freezing rain continues to move through the region and will continue through Thursday morning.

• Memphis area in south-central Arkansas and Tennessee: Another ten to quarters of an inch of ice could accumulate by Thursday morning.

• About the region: A total ice accumulation of at least a quarter of an inch is likely from west Texas to west Tennessee by Thursday morning. Up to half an inch could build up in parts of central and north-central Texas and southern Arkansas, the National Weather Service said.

• Widespread flight cancellations: More than 2,400 flights within, to or from the United States were canceled on Wednesday, according to tracking website FlightAware.

Semi trucks blocked Interstate 10 in Reeves County, Texas on Tuesday.

In a state not used to heavy ice, a group of Jeep enthusiasts deployed their vehicles to help stranded drivers.

Dallas-based group Carnales Off Road regularly provides assistance to 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 much as possible,” Muñiz said.

Several articulated lorries got stuck on Interstate 20 on Tuesday, and about 30 jeeps helped with the towing.

“Before we got to I-20, we also helped a few other cars that were stuck on the road,” Muniz said. “We eventually encountered the standstill on Interstate 20 and helped 20 other 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 told them we were only there to help.”

The group is back on the road Wednesday and will help medical workers who are 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, northwestern Mississippi and Texas were 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 auto accidents across Texas on Tuesday, officials said. Rescue workers tended to people suffering from hypothermia or injured after slipping on ice. The Texas National Guard stands ready to help stranded motorists, clear roads and conduct welfare inspections, Gov. Greg Abbott said. And Texas Parks and Wildlife has at least 30 search and rescue crews on standby.

Meanwhile, a separate storm system will bring temperatures down in the Northeast as well.

The National Weather Service is forecasting “dangerously cold temperatures” in the region for Friday and Saturday, with freezing wind showers that could cause frostbite in as little as 10 minutes said.

“Limit time outdoors and cover entire skin when going out,” the service added.

The service is forecasting -20 to -35 degrees Fahrenheit wind showers early Friday affecting parts of New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, while Saturday morning could bring -60 degree Fahrenheit wind showers over northern New England, the weather service said.

Leaders in every state, including Rhode Island, Connecticut and Maine, coordinated resources ahead of the extreme weather and set up warming centers, according to announcements from the governors.

“Temperatures this weekend will be extremely — and dangerously — cold across the state,” Maine Gov. Janet Mills said in a Tuesday news release. “Please take extra precautions, use caution when going outside and be sure to check on your family, friends and neighbors to make sure they are okay.”

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