AUSTIN, Texas – More than 230,000 homes and businesses across the state were without power Wednesday and more than 1,800 flights were canceled amid an unrelenting blast of treacherous, icy conditions and brutal cold that has left at least six dead.
The winter weather system, now in its third day, has swept from Minnesota and New York deep into the heart of Texas. Wrecks on slippery roads have been reported in Texas, Arkansas and states across the region all week. In Texas’ Travis County, officials said on Tuesday they were responding to new crashes every three minutes.
And in parts of Minnesota, a wind chill advisory was in effect Wednesday morning amid wind chills dropping as low as 35 degrees below zero. Officials warned that the conditions can cause frostbite in as little as 10 minutes.
►A winter storm warning was also in effect until Thursday in east central, southeast and southern Oklahoma.
►LaGuardia Airport in New York was under a ground stop for the second morning in a row due to wintry conditions.
WHAT IS WIND CHILL? Understanding the wind chill index and how it’s calculated
Winter storm warning continues in parts of Texas
An ice storm warning is in effect until Thursday morning in parts of north and central Texas as mostly freezing rain and sleet are expected in the area, the National Weather Service in Fort Worth warned. The weather service warned that “significant” icing is expected, and accumulations could reach up to one-half inch.
Some winter storm warnings were set to lift by noon on Wednesday, the weather service said. But power outages and tree damage were still likely because of ice in the area, and officials warned that drivers should keep an extra flashlight, food and water in in their vehicles.
“The state of Texas is working around the clock to keep Texans safe and warm over the course of this severe winter weather and flooding event,” Gov. Greg Abbott said. “Texans are urged to remain weather-aware and stay off the roads if possible.”
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE? Sleet vs. freezing rain vs. hail
Austin struggles with outages, more ice coming
More than one-third of the Texas power outages were in the Austin area early Wednesday. While Austin could see temperatures reach 33 degrees for a few hours in the afternoon, forecasters warned that the wind chill will remain in the mid 20s.
The Austin region could see an additional 0.1 to 0.25 inches of ice Wednesday, the National Weather Service said. There is a chance the ice could turn to rain during the afternoon moving into the evening, however, forecasters expect the freezing rain will continue again during the evening and into early Thursday morning.
Ice storm warnings stretch to Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee
An ice storm warning was also in effect until Thursday in parts of east Arkansas, north Mississippi and west Tennessee. Sleet accumulations of up to one-half inch are possible.
Officials warned that travel conditions could continue to be difficult in the coming days. Interstate 40 in parts of Arkansas was coated in ice on Tuesday.
Polar vortex heads for the Northeast
Intense arctic air will target the Northeast later this week, AccuWeather meteorologists predicted.
Temperatures in Boston are expected to drop to 10 below zero by Saturday morning.
And in parts of Maine, temperatures could drop to 28 degrees below zero this weekend.
WHAT IS THE POLAR VORTEX? In-depth look at how it can affect winter weather in the US.
WHAT IS LAKE EFFECT SNOW?Here’s how it happens and how much snow it can bring with it.
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Contributing: Associated Press