Weekend Ice Storm Targets Central US
ATLANTA (CNN) — It’s a dangerous setup that the Central Plains of the US knows all too well, as residents find themselves in the middle of cold, Arctic air blowing down from Canada and much warmer, humid air streaming in from the Gulf of Mexico.
During the spring and fall, this clash of air masses often spawns severe storms and tornadoes — but during the winter, the result can be an equally devastating, and much more widespread ice storm.
Beginning on Friday and lasting through the weekend, a slow-moving storm has been developing over the Southwestern US and is expected to bring a stretch of precipitation across the midsection of the country. With cold air at the surface and warmer air from the south moving on top of the cold, this precipitation will fall as freezing rain or sleet for long periods of the weekend for over a dozen states, from Texas all the way to Maryland.
More than 30 million Americans are under some type of wintry watch, warning or advisory from this storm, and 10 million of those fall under an ice storm warning, which is where most of the significant impacts from the storm will occur.
The hardest hit states of Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri will see up to one inch of ice coating trees and roads — making travel impossible and potentially bringing power outages to millions of residents this weekend.
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin declared a state of emergency for all 77 Oklahoma counties on Thursday.
In Kansas and Missouri, nearly 200 National Guard soldiers gear up to provide emergency response assistance to local authorities.
In Missouri, three people have died on highways due to the inclement weather conditions, Missouri Dept. of Public Safety spokesman Mike O’Connell told CNN.
A multi-vehicle crash led to one occupant being ejected and struck by an unidentified vehicle in Platte County going southbound on Interstate 29 on Saturday, the Missouri State Highway Patrol said.
Also on Saturday, another vehicle overturned on an ice covered roadway in Nodaway County and the driver was ejected, the patrol
The Missouri State Highway Patrol reported the first road fatality on Friday. A motorist died after she lost control of her vehicle on an icy overpass while driving on Interstate 55 in southeastern Missouri.
The icy conditions caused another weather-related death, this time in Custer County, Oklahoma.
A motorist died during a traffic collision in the western part of the state, which resulted in multi-vehicle pile up on Interstate 40, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol said.
The National Weather Service in Wichita, Kansas, strongly discourages travel, saying, “Significant amounts of ice accumulations will make travel dangerous or impossible” and that “commerce will likely be significantly impacted.”
Ice accumulations ranging from a half inch to an inch can cause significant damage to trees and bring down power lines for widespread areas. Due to expected power outages and travel impacts, the Kansas Department of Emergency Management warns citizens to “make sure their home emergency kits are stocked for a 3-day supply.”