(Trends Wide) — Forecasts of a treacherous mix of snow and ice have put more than 20 million people under a winter weather alert from Texas to the Carolinas.
The double whammy threat prompted the governors of North and South Carolina and Virginia to issue states of emergency. In general, the alerts cover a wide swath including southern Texas, southern Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, western Florida, Virginia and the Carolinas.
Several school districts in the Carolinas decided to move to virtual learning Friday and canceled activities in anticipation of the ice and snow storm, Trends Wide affiliate WYFF reported. Some districts cited low temperatures and icy roads that could make travel unsafe.
The ice storm warning for portions of the Carolinas coast went into effect at midnight and is expected to remain until noon this Saturday.
A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY HAS BEEN ISSUED: A cold front will bring light rain across the area this morning and afternoon. Expect cold air to rush in behind the cold front and bring the opportunity for light wintry weather tonight through Saturday morning. #scwx #ncwx #gawx pic.twitter.com/xGEZeO1Rd8
– NWS GSP (@NWSGSP) January 20, 2022
Extensive ice accumulation is expected in Wilmington, North Carolina, with some areas possibly seeing up to half an inch, according to Trends Wide Meteorologist Robert Shackelford.
“Power outages are very likely in ice storm warning areas,” Shackelford said.
Heavy snow expected
The region is also bracing for heavy snowfall this weekend. Warnings issued for parts of North Carolina and Virginia predict 1 to 4 inches of snow, with some areas seeing up to 6 inches. Wind gusts can also reach 65 kph.
In Charleston, South Carolina, the main threat is freezing rain with accumulations of ice to light icing, Shackelford said. For North Carolina, there could be a bit more snow, with totals reaching 2 inches, and the ice pack is still a light glaze, he added.
For Texas, wind chill and winter storm warnings are in effect through Friday afternoon, Shackelford said.
Temperatures in parts of Texas are expected to plummet, from highs of 21 and 26 degrees on Wednesday to below freezing overnight Thursday into Friday, with the possibility of a winter mix.
“Widespread -1 degree temperatures are now observed in the coastal counties, spreading west. As temperatures continue to drop steadily overnight, freezing temperatures will not be reached until after 12AM,” he tweeted this Thursday the National Weather Service office in Brownsville.
Due to the ice, travel and power outages remain the biggest concerns.
In North Carolina, Governor Roy Cooper warned that southeastern counties could see widespread shutdowns and treacherous highways.
“That’s where you expect a quarter inch or more of ice on trees and power lines, and that’s a recipe for power outages, unfortunately,” Cooper said Thursday at a news conference as he cheered on the people to stock up on groceries.
Cooper added that his National Guard was activated, providing 114 soldiers with equipment including high-rise vehicles, trucks and ambulances.
The latest weather disturbance comes nearly a week after a snowstorm hit the Southeast, leaving more than 130,000 people in the Carolinas, Virginia, Georgia and Maryland in the dark. Ice was also a big threat, with hundreds of traffic accidents recorded.
In anticipation of dangerous roads, the South Carolina Department of Transportation said it is prepared to work around the clock to ensure the safety of drivers. However, the department urged people to stay off the roads.