About 100,000 people lose power in the brutal cold as snow, ice and sleet wallop the South and Midwest

A triple whammy of sleet, snow and ice has bombarded more than 2,000 miles in the eastern US — and many Americans are now stuck in the storm with no electricity.

More than 100 million people in 25 states stretching from the Mexican to Canadian borders were under winter weather alerts Thursday, CNN meteorologist Monica Garrett said.

By 7 a.m. ET, about 100,000 people had lost power, according to Poweroutage.us.

The Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport closed Thursday morning due to ice and snow, the Federal Aviation Authority said. The airport has had freezing rain since this morning. The FAA said the airport is expected to reopen at 11 a.m. CST.

The “significant winter storm is expected to impact much of the central and Northeastern U.S. through Friday night,” said the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center.

More than 20 inches of snow has already piled up in the Colorado Springs area, the weather service said. Parts of Illinois and Indiana are buried under a foot of snow.

In Texas, the storm will test the state’s power grid, which suffered catastrophic outages last February. The state said 246 people died — most of them from hypothermia — after a snow and ice storm left thousands of Texans without power for weeks.

Leaders of the state’s power grid — Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT — said Wednesday they believe they’re prepared to handle the high demands during the storm but also warned there may be local outages due to ice on wires or fallen tree limbs.

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By early Thursday morning, more than 48,000 homes and businesses in Texas had no electricity, according to PowerOutage.us. More than 16,000 outages were reported in Oklahoma and nearly 12,000 in Arkansas.

What ‘several rounds of winter weather’ will look like

As the storm system pushes farther east, forecasters say it will deliver a frigid mix of hazards.

“The system will be prolonged with several rounds of winter weather lasting through Friday for portions of the central U.S. before shifting to the interior Northeast,” the weather service said Wednesday.

CNN meteorologists Robert Shackelford and Mike Saenz said these cities are among those under the gun:

  • Texas: Dallas could end up with a half inch of ice, but freezing rain, sleet and snow were projected to peak Thursday morning. The Dallas Independent School District will be closed Thursday and Friday, officials said. Austin could get a quarter of an inch and a half inch of sleet, with the worst peaking by Thursday afternoon.
  • St. Louis: The city could get another 5 to 8 inches of snow Thursday after already getting about 4 inches in isolated areas. Peak conditions will last through 11 a.m. Thursday.
  • Memphis, Tennessee: An additional quarter inch to half inch of ice are expected Thursday, when conditions are expected to peak now until 1 p.m. About one tenth of an inch of ice has already been reported.
  • Louisville, Kentucky: Up to half an inch of ice is expected to form. Plus, about 1 inch sleet and snow — each — is projected to fall. Peak hours for a mixture of freezing rain, snow and sleet are 7 a.m. Thursday through 1 a.m. Friday.
  • Little Rock, Arkansas: The city could get up to a half inch of ice in addition to an inch each of snow and sleet. Peak hours are expected between now and 11 a.m.
  • Oklahoma City: The city just set a new February 2 record for snowfall — 3 inches on Wednesday — and could get another 4 inches of snow before the storm is over. Ice accumulation could reach half an inch.
  • Chicago: The Windy City could see up to 4 inches of additional snow piled on top of the nearly 9 inches that already fell.
  • Indiana: After getting pummeled with more than 11 inches of snow, South Bend could see an additional 2 to 6 inches — and peak conditions will last until 6 p.m. Thursday. Indianapolis has already gotten 4 inches of snow and could get another 3 inches.
  • Buffalo, New York: The area could be buried under 7 to 13 inches of snowfall, which is expected to peak Thursday afternoon through evening.

Travel is already miserable

Perilous travel conditions have caused crashes and road closures. In Illinois, officials closed parts of several highways after numerous wrecks.

“The combination of the volumes of snow, high winds, and frigid temperatures make travel near impossible in some areas of the state with several highways shutdown from vehicle crashes and jack-knifed semi-trucks,” said Kevin Sur, spokesperson for the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.

In Springfield, a train crashed into a car that got stuck on the tracks due to snow Wednesday night. The driver — the only person in the car– was able to get out in time, Springfield police said. No injuries were reported.

Amtrak canceled multiple train routes Thursday in and out of Chicago, including the Cardinal Train 51 to New York. The route between St. Louis and Kansas City is also canceled, Amtrak said.

The mammoth storm also snarled air travel Thursday, which is projected to be one of the 10 worst days for air travel over the past year.

Correction: A previous version of this story overstated the new February 2 snowfall record for Oklahoma City. The new record is 3 inches.

The-CNN-Wire

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