71.2 million under winter weather alerts, hard freeze continues in portions of the Deep South, US

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The fourth winter storm to impact the US South this season – named Inga by The Weather Channel – moved into the region on Tuesday, January 16, 2018, causing major travel problems and forcing officials to declare states of emergency in North Carolina and Alabama. 71.2 million people are under winter weather alerts Wednesday as Inga moves through the southeast and into the northeast.

On Tuesday, January 16, Shreveport, Louisiana received first measurable snow since 2015, closing down both directions of Interstate 49. Ten of thousands of customers were left without power and 23 380 remained without power as of early Wednesday. Officials closed down numerous schools, from the northwest to the south.

Multiple pileups were reported across the region. At least 7 passengers were injured in a multi-vehicle wreck on Interstate 65 southbound lane in central Kentucky near Bonnieville, shutting it down. Another pileup was reported along Interstate 22 near Red Banks, Mississippi. The incident involved at least 6 semi trucks and other vehicles. 

Mississippi Department of Transportation said ice has been reported on roads and overpasses in several counties including Alcorn, Benton, Calhoun, Coahoma, Lafayette, Marshall, Panola, Pontotoc, Prentiss, Quitman, Tate, Tippah and Tunica.

Drivers were encouraged to use extreme caution and adhere to the following safety tips:

  • Buckle up for safety
  • Slow down, especially when driving in winter weather conditions
  • Allow more space between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you
  • Brake early to allow plenty of time to stop
  • Brake gently to avoid skidding and never slam on the brakes
  • Turn on lights to be more visible to other motorists
  • Do not use cruise control or overdrive on icy roads
  • Stay alert and look farther ahead in traffic than you normally do
  • Drive safely

Authorities of Austin, Houston and San Antonio, TX urged residents to stay off the roads if possible as ice quickly accumulated on overpasses and bridges, shutting down numerous roadways.

Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services crews said they responded to 136 incidents from midnight to 09:00 on Tuesday. Of those incidents, 18 were related to weather, and 13 were crashes, the agency said

More than 63 000 customers in Texas were left without power Tuesday and the number is down to 13 839 as of early Wednesday. 

Similar weather is expected across the region today and into Thursday.

Accumulating snowfall will bring travel implications from the southeast US to the Middle Atlantic, Northeast, and New England through Wednesday, January 17 while very cold temperatures will likely bring a hard freeze to portions of the Deep South into Thursday, January 18, the National Weather Service warns.

“A strong cold front moving east into the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast early this morning will help set the stage for accumulating snow across south-central Virginia into central North Carolina, extending all the way to the coast,” NWS forecaster Otto noted 07:48 UTC today (02:48 EST).

Rain will likely be the initial precipitation type along the eastern edges of the precipitation shield, but a transition to all snow is expected during the day today and tonight across coastal North Carolina.

5 – 10 cm of snow (2 – 4 inches), locally higher, is expected for inland locations while one to two inches will be possible along coastal locations ending Thursday morning.

To the north, coastal rain for the Northeast with inland snow will fall for much of the day today with the greatest potential for four or more inches of snow extending from central Massachusetts into eastern Maine before the snow ends with the departing surface low tonight.

As high pressure, currently over the South, moves east over the next one to two days, westerly to southwesterly flow will develop across the middle of the nation allowing for a significant warm-up.

High temperatures will rise into the 30s (°F) [-1 °C] and even lower 40s (°F) [4.4 °C] for the Dakotas today and Thursday.

On Thursday, high temperatures are forecast to be a good 10 to 25 °F (5 – 15 °C)  above average across a sizable portion of the nation extending from the central/northern Plains into the western U.S.

Featured image: IR + Radar at 11:00 UTC, January 17, 2018. Credit: SSEC/UW-CIMSS

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