Winter storm spreads more heavy snow and ice across the U.S.

Men playing football on snow-covered field
Men play football on a snow-covered field in Chicago’s Lincoln Park on Wednesday.
(Charles Rex Arbogast / Associated Press)

More than 200,000 homes and businesses lost power across the U.S. on Thursday as freezing rain and snow weighed down tree limbs and encrusted power lines, part of a winter storm that caused an apparent tornado in Alabama, dumped more than a foot of snow in parts of the Midwest and brought rare measurable snowfall to parts of Texas.

Storm conditions also caused headaches for travelers across the country as airlines canceled more than 6,000 flights scheduled for Thursday or Friday in the U.S. At Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, authorities shut down all runways Thursday morning and reported more than 1,000 canceled flights.

The highest totals of power outages blamed on icy or downed power lines were concentrated in Tennessee, Arkansas, Texas and Ohio, but the path of the storm stretched farther from the central U.S. into the South and Northeast on Thursday. Heavy snow was expected from the southern Rockies to northern New England, while forecasters said heavy ice buildup was likely from Texas to Pennsylvania.


“We have a lot of real estate covered by winter weather impacts this morning,” Andrew Orrison, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in College Park, Md., said early Thursday. “We do have an expansive area of heavy snow, sleet and freezing rain occurring.”

The blast of frigid weather, which began arriving Tuesday night, hit a long stretch of states, from New Mexico and Colorado to Maine.

Feb. 2, 2022

Parts of Ohio, New York and northern New England were expected to see heavy snowfall as the storm moves to the east, with 12 to 18 inches of snow possible in some places through Friday, Orrison said.

Along the warmer side of the storm, strong thunderstorms capable of damaging wind gusts and tornadoes were possible Thursday in parts of Mississippi and Alabama, the Storm Prediction Center said.

Scientists say measuring climate change by temperature alone doesn’t accurately reflect how bad global warming really is getting.

Feb. 1, 2022

In western Alabama, Hale County Emergency Management Director Russell Weeden told WBRC-TV a tornado that hit a rural area Thursday afternoon killed one person, a woman he found under rubble, and critically injured three other people. A home was heavily damaged, he said.

Tornadoes in the winter are unusual but possible, and scientists have said the atmospheric conditions needed to cause a tornado have intensified as the planet warms.

Heavy snow that the storm brought to Midwestern states isn’t unusual, except the bigger than normal path of intense snow in some places, said Northern Illinois University meteorology professor Victor Gensini. With a warmer climate, people are forgetting what a Midwestern winter had long been like, he said.


“The only amazing winters I’ve been able to experience is through my parents’ photographs of the 1970s,” said Gensini, 35. “This (storm) is par for the course, not only for the past, but winters current.”

More than 20 inches of snow was reported in the southern Rockies, while more than a foot of snow fell in areas of Illinois, Indiana and Michigan.

The flight-tracking service showed more than 6,000 flights in the U.S. scheduled for Thursday or Friday had been canceled, on top of more than 2,000 cancellations Wednesday as the storm began.

Sleet and freezing rain were occurring early Thursday in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in Texas and in parts of Oklahoma and Arkansas. More than 200,000 homes and businesses were without power, mostly in Texas and Arkansas, according to the website, which tracks utility reports.

Gusty winds and falling temperatures hit the East Coast as people dig out from a nor’easter that dumped snow, flooded coastlines and knocked out power.

Jan. 30, 2022

In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott and local officials said Thursday’s outages were due to high winds or icy and downed transmission lines, not grid failures.

In Dallas, where snow rarely accumulates, the overnight mix of snow and freezing rain had hardened Thursday afternoon into an icy slick that made roads perilous.


South Bend, Ind., reported a record snowfall for the date on Wednesday with 11.2 inches, eclipsing the previous record of 8 inches set on the date in 1908, said Hannah Carpenter, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s office in Syracuse, Ind.

Once the storm pushes through, she said temperatures will see a big drop, with Friday’s highs mostly in the upper teens followed by lows in the single digits in northern Indiana, along with bone-chilling wind chills.

“It’s definitely not going to be melting real quick here,” Carpenter said Thursday morning.

The frigid temperatures settled into areas after the snowy weather, with Kansas residents awakening to dangerous wind chills of around 15 below zero. In New Mexico, schools and nonessential government services were closed in some areas Thursday because of icy and snow-packed roads.

The disruptive storm began Tuesday and moved across the central U.S. on Wednesday’s Groundhog Day, the same day the famed groundhog Punxsutawney Phil predicted six more weeks of winter. The storm came on the heels of a nor’easter last weekend that brought blizzard conditions to many parts of the East Coast.

Bleed reported from Little Rock, Ark. Associated Press writers Adrian Sainz in Memphis, Tenn.; Paul J. Weber in Austin, Texas; Jake Bleiberg in Dallas; Paul Davenport in Albuquerque, N.M.; Seth Borenstein in Kensington, Md.; Rick Callahan in Indianapolis; and Jay Reeves in Alabaster, Ala., contributed to this report.