AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Winter weather brought snow to much of the United States on Tuesday, canceling more than 1,700 flights and snarling highways across the country. At least two people died on slick roads in Texas and two law enforcement officers in the state were seriously injured, including when a deputy was pinned under a truck, officials said.
As the blizzard moved east on Tuesday, watches and warnings stretched from the western heel of Texas to West Virginia. Several rounds of mixed precipitation — including freezing rain and sleet — have been stored in many areas through Wednesday, meaning some areas could be hit multiple times, the Federal Weather Service warned.
Emergency responders rushed to hundreds of vehicle collisions across Texas and Republican Gov. Greg Abbott urged people to stay off the roads.
One person was killed in a premature pile-up in Austin Tuesday, authorities said. A 45-year-old man died Monday night after rolling down an embankment on a slippery highway guardrail near Dallas, according to the Arlington Police Department.
More than 900 flights to and from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, a major U.S. airport hub, and more than 250 flights to or from Dallas Love Field were canceled or delayed Tuesday, according to tracking service FlightAware. At Dallas-Fort Worth, more than 50% of flights scheduled for Tuesday were canceled by Tuesday afternoon.
Dallas-based Southwest Airlines canceled more than 560 flights and delayed more than 350 on Tuesday, FlightAware reported.
About 7,000 power outages were reported in Texas as of Tuesday morning, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott said after a briefing on the dire conditions in Austin. He emphasized that outages were caused by factors such as ice on power lines or downed trees during a deadly winter storm in 2021, not the efficiency of the Texas power grid.
Emergency vehicles converged on 1,600 roads affected by frost.
In Texas, a sheriff’s deputy who stopped to help the driver of an 18-wheeler that went off an icy highway on Tuesday crashed into a second truck, pinning him under one of its tires, the Travis County Sheriff’s Office said. The deputy was freed from the wreckage about 45 minutes after the crash on State Highway 130 and taken to a hospital, where he was in surgery Tuesday afternoon, officials said. Officials said the vice-chancellor would survive.
In another wreck, a Texas state trooper was hit by a driver who lost control of his vehicle and was hospitalized with serious injuries, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McGraw said.
“The roads are very dangerous now. We can’t overstate it,” Abbott said.
Memphis, Tennessee Schools announced the cancellation of classes Wednesday due to snow and ice in Memphis-Shelby County due to freezing rain and dangerous road conditions. The school system has about 100,000 students. The University of Memphis said it will announce schedules for Wednesday’s classes by 6 a.m. tomorrow.
In Arkansas, Republican Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders declared a state of emergency Tuesday because of the blizzard. In his announcement, Sanders cited “the potential for several downed power lines” and said road conditions have created delays in deliveries by commercial drivers.
Interstate 40 — one of the main routes through Arkansas — was covered in snow in the Forrest City area on Tuesday and was “extremely hazardous,” the city’s fire department said.
The department responded to two serious wrecks and about 15 accidents Tuesday morning, Division Chief Jeremy Sharp said by phone. In many accidents, drivers speed up on the highway but run into trouble when they reach a bridge, he said.
“They hit the ice and they start to destroy,” he said.
“When I-40 gets shut down like that, it’s hours of waiting,” said John Cadberry, who lives in Gould, Arkansas, not far from the highway. “I-40 is usually one of the first things to freeze because of its small elevation.”
By early Tuesday morning, I-40 had been cleared and traffic had resumed, the Arkansas Department of Transportation announced. The interstate connects Little Rock, Arkansas, to Memphis, Tennessee.
The storm started on Monday Part of a “multiple rounds” of wintry precipitation across Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Tennessee through Wednesday, National Weather Service meteorologist Mark Senard said.
“Generally light to moderate freezing rain results in some significant snow accumulations,” Senard said.
According to Senard, “We’re expecting a quarter inch or more of snow as far south as Austin, Texas, Dallas, Little Rock, Arkansas, Memphis, Tennessee, and even as close as Nashville, Tennessee.
In December, the flight continues along the southwest coast That started with the winter storm, but continued after most other airlines recovered. Southwest has canceled about 16,700 flights in the last 10 days of the year, and the U.S. Department of Transportation is investigating..
The weather service has issued a winter storm warning for parts of Texas and southeastern Oklahoma and a blizzard warning for central Arkansas into western Tennessee.
A winter weather advisory is in effect for much of Arkansas and the rest of Tennessee, as well as Kentucky, West Virginia, and southern parts of Indiana and Ohio.
Schools and colleges in Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas plan to either close or move to virtual learning on Tuesday.
Martin reported from Woodstock, Georgia. Associated Press writers Sarah Brumfield in Silver Spring, Maryland; Andrew DeMillo in Little Rock, Arkansas; Ken Miller in Oklahoma City; Adrian Sines in Memphis; and contributed by David Koenig in Dallas.