Winter weather: Power outages, travel nightmare — and snow in Vegas?

Posted at 4:01 PM, Dec 07, 2013
and last updated 2013-12-07 18:01:41-05
By Tom Watkins


(CNN) — The deadly winter storm system that hit the nation this week showed no sign of relenting on Saturday, as it tracked across the nation, dropping heavy snow and blasting unseasonably cold air into parts of the West and through the Northern Plains.

Click here for weather information for Utah.

The storm is moving east and major metro areas are bracing for snow, sleet and ice. The storm is expected to hit Washington, Philadelphia and New York City on Sunday, but temperatures are expected to rise above freezing on Monday.

The South was hammered. In Dallas temperatures dropped to 20 degrees, freezing hard the slush that had blanketed the region on Friday. The ice took a toll on power lines. More than 200,000 customers were without power. Hundreds of autos were abandoned on I-35, CNN affiliate WFAA-TV reported.

At least five people have died in storm-related incidents, with the latest fatality reported in Lewisville, about 25 miles north of Dallas, where the driver of a pickup lost control on an icy road. The pickup spun out of control on a road over Lake Lewisville, went over a guard rail and landed in the water. Firefighters dove into the frigid water and towed the truck to the bridge. The unidentified driver died.

Also in Texas, a passenger was killed Thursday when a vehicle lost control and crashed into another car in Hockley County, the Texas Department of Public Safety said.

An Arkansas man was killed late Thursday when a tree fell on his camper in Pope County, the Department of Emergency Management said.

Highway Patrol officials in Oklahoma blamed at least one death, in Muskogee, on the weather.

In New Mexico, drivers dealt with icy roads. One person died when a semi crashed near Clines Corners.

About 116 storm-related injuries have been reported in Oklahoma, including 48 falls, the state health department said.

The storm also took a toll on travel, causing hundreds of car crashes and forcing the cancellation on Friday of nearly 700 flights — about 80% of the total — from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. Some 4,000 would-be passengers wound up spending the night there.

But the FAA said Saturday morning that normal operations had resumed.

Winter came much earlier than usual in many sections of the nation.

Farmersburg, Indiana, recorded up to 10 inches Thursday and temperatures fell into the single digits at night. “This was early for us to have this much measurable snow late in the fall, but has happened before,” Mark Ivy told CNN iReport. “It is more the cold that is unusual.”

In East Kingsford, Michigan, iReporter Jason Asselin said he’s covering blankets to keep you the cold. “In December, our average temperatures are in the 20s,” he said. “Currently it is zero degrees outside.”

The temperature in Dallas was not expected to exceed 30 degrees on Saturday, 33 on Sunday and 35 on Monday. The average for this time of year is 59 degrees.

For the first time in 26 years, Dallas canceled a holiday parade that had been scheduled for Saturday and called off its annual marathon, slated for Sunday.

Its impact was felt far and wide: 80 miles west of Dallas, Mineral Wells, Texas, got hit by three and a half inches of sleet. And nearly a foot of snow fell in Centerton, Arkansas, 350 miles northeast of Dallas.

Across the High Plains and into the Great Lakes, temperatures were expected to be 10 to 35 degrees below average, with wind chill values predicted to reach 35 to 45 degrees below zero in some areas.

The wintry mix was moving across Texas into Arkansas and across the Mississippi River Valley into the Ohio River Valley toward Washington, where snow or sleet was predicted on Sunday.

Temperatures were expected to plummet Sunday in New York and Boston as a secondary system works its way into the Northeast, dropping sleet and snow.

From the central Appalachians through central New England, snow is expected into early Saturday morning, the National Weather Service said.

Sleet was predicted from the Tennessee Valley to the Mid-Atlantic on Sunday.

The temperature swings were startling. Hot Springs, Arkansas, basked in a record high of 75 on Wednesday. By Friday, it was shivering through an ice storm, and Saturday’s temperature was not expected to exceed 29 degrees.

States of emergency

Residents of Memphis, Tennessee, also saw unusually cold temperatures: Saturday’s predicted low of was 18; its predicted high of 31 falls far short of the average high of 54.

The city called off the annual St. Jude Memphis Marathon, which had been scheduled for Saturday.

The governors of Tennessee and Arkansas declared states of emergency ahead of the worst of the storm.

Nearly 30,000 were without power in Arkansas, energy companies reported.

More coming

A wintry mix was forecast for Washington beginning about noon Sunday. The National Weather Service said an ice storm could strike the nation’s capital from late Sunday afternoon through the evening hours, but temperatures are expected to rise above freezing by rush hour Monday.

A new storm entered the West, bringing snow to the Pacific Coast on Friday. Winter storm watches, warnings and advisories were issued for eight states, from California to Colorado. Parts of Oregon got up to a foot of snow and there is a chance for snow in Las Vegas on Saturday.

Total snow accumulations will be up to 2 inches.

“The greatest chances for accumulation will be in Summerlin, especially in neighborhoods west of the 215 beltway,” the National Weather Service said.

Las Vegas lows will hover around the mid-20s over the weekend.

CNN’s Melissa Lefevre, Jennifer Gray, Samantha Mohr, Jason Morris, Ralph Ellis and Dave Hennen contributed to this report.

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