Published 10:35 PM EST Feb 5, 2020
A powerful winter storm that dropped 2 inches of snow on El Paso along the Texas border began a 1,500-mile trek across the nation’s heartland Wednesday, threatening heavy snow for Oklahoma City, Detroit and Chicago.
Winter storm warnings were in effect from eastern New Mexico to the greater St. Louis metro area.
Snow was pushing into Illinois, Michigan and other parts of the Midwest on Wednesday, and it is expected to continue Thursday before reaching the Northeast by Friday, the National Weather Service said.
To the south, ahead of the storm, a deep surge of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico is expected to trigger heavy rain and severe thunderstorms, including possible tornadoes, from Louisiana to Virginia.
Portions of eastern Louisiana and most of Mississippi and Alabama faced the threat of severe thunderstorms, heavy rain and isolated tornadoes through Wednesday evening.
Early Wednesday afternoon, the weather service posted a tornado watch across much of Louisiana and Mississippi.
AccuWeather said a line of powerful thunderstorms is expected to push across the Deep South to the Atlantic Coast by Thursday night. The thunderstorms are likely to hit major cities such as Charleston, South Carolina; Savannah, Georgia; and Jacksonville, Florida, at night.
As the storm moved east out of the Southern Plains, it was expected to slam northwestern Texas with 4 to 8 inches of snow through Wednesday evening. Oklahoma City schools canceled classes as the city was hit with 4.5 inches of snow Wednesday morning, almost doubling the previous record for Feb. 5.
Highway Patrol troopers worked more than two dozen accidents in the Oklahoma City area early Wednesday, including some with injuries, after several inches of snow fell overnight, said Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Sarah Stewart.
“The biggest impact has been snarled traffic from jack-knifed semis,” Stewart said.
Peacock, Texas, about 90 miles south-southeast of Lubbock, measured up to 10 inches of snow, The Weather Channel reported, while Big Spring, Texas, experienced “thundersnow,” an unusual scenario in which a thunderstorm produces snow instead of rain.
Icy conditions prompted officials in several school districts around El Paso to delay opening classes on Wednesday.
The winter storm caused a multi-vehicle pileup Wednesday on an Interstate 70 bridge in central Missouri but mostly missed a parade to celebrate the Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl win.
In Arkansas, forecasters said up to a quarter-inch of ice and 1 to 3 inches of snow were possible in the northwest part of the state while the rest of the state could expect heavy rain on Wednesday.
Some freezing rain is likely across parts of the Ohio Valley and into interior portions of the Northeast through Thursday night, according to the weather service.
After a spate of milder temperatures, much of Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts were under a winter weather advisory calling for ice and up to 2 inches of snow.
AccuWeather said the storm could make morning and afternoon commutes on Thursday around Chicago and Detroit slow and slippery.
Contributing: The Associated Press
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