Freezing rain, sleet and snow coated eastern and southern Texas today on the heels of a two-day cold spell, part of a winter storm headed toward the U.S. Northeast with snow and rain for tomorrow, forecasters said.
The Houston area received one-tenth of an inch to a quarter-inch of ice, said Matt Moreland, a National Weather Service meteorologist in nearby Dickinson. At least 100 traffic accidents were reported in the southeastern Texas city today, prompting officials to close ice-coated freeways, the Houston Chronicle reported.
Dallas and Fort Worth, to the north, were blanketed by as much as 6 inches (15 centimeters) of snow, according to AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania. Another night of temperatures in the teens and 20s was forecast.
“Temperatures are below freezing, skies will clear out this evening and that will really let things bottom out tonight,” Moreland said. “We’re concerned about refreezing on the roadways.”
Earlier this week, a giant winter storm across the northern U.S. grounded about 13,000 flights and pounded Chicago with wind gusts of 70 miles per hour (113 kilometers per hour) and 20 inches of snow.
Behind that storm, a blast of frigid air swept from Canada into the southern U.S., driving temperatures to 20 degrees to 30 degrees below normal.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which operates the state’s grid, ordered rotating outages to help power generators cope with demand. New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez declared a state of emergency because of natural-gas shortages, which were reported across the Southwest today as demand rose and power outages disrupted transmission and production.
As of 2:30 p.m., 2,133 flights in the U.S. had been scrubbed for today, with the heaviest cancellations at Houston’s Bush Intercontinental Airport and Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, according to FlightAware, an airline traffic tracking service.
Moreland said Houston will start warming up tomorrow. Temperatures in the Dallas area should be in the mid-40s Fahrenheit (about 7.2 Celsius) for the National Football League Super Bowl on Feb. 6 between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers.
Bound for Northeast
The same system that dropped ice and snow on Texas is now headed for the mid-Atlantic states and the Northeast.
“This would be the same one that will come northeastward on Friday night into Saturday and spread some rain and snow in the mid-Atlantic and the Northeast as well,” said Dan Pydynowski, a senior meteorologist at AccuWeather.
Light snow and sleet will probably greet New Yorkers early tomorrow, although it will change to rain by noon, said Jim Connolly, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Upton, New York. Areas north and west of the city may get more ice and “a little bit more snow,” he said.
“It isn’t a big system,” Connolly said. “There might be a coating of snow as the storm pulls away tomorrow night.”
A winter weather advisory is in place from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m. tomorrow for northern New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania and the Hudson River valley just north of New York City. From 1 to 4 inches of snow and 0.1 inch of ice may fall on the area, according to the advisory.
“Roads conditions will become slippery by Saturday morning,” the advisory said. “Caution is urged while driving from late tonight into Saturday morning.”