Two People Reportedly Die As Ice Storm Grapples US, Airlines Cancel More Than 1700 Flights

(Photo by JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP via Getty Images)

Gretchen Clayson Contributor
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A winter storm grappled much of the U.S. on Tuesday, canceling over 1,700 flights nationwide and causing hundreds of car accidents that reportedly resulted in two fatalities.

Freezing rain and sleet prompted winter storm warnings and advisories to go into effect from West Texas to West Virginia in the final days of January. Hundreds of collisions occurred across state lines due to the hazardous conditions even as lawmakers urged citizens to stay off the roads, the Associated Press (AP) reported. (RELATED: ‘Potentially Hazardous Winter Weather’ Will Continue Into February)

One man was killed Monday night in Dallas when his SUV slid into a guardrail and rolled down an embankment, AP reported, citing the Arlington Police Department. Another man was killed in an early morning pileup collision in Austin, the outlet continued. A Texas deputy was pinned under the tire of a truck for 45 minutes after he stopped to help an 18-wheeler that had slid off the road. Another Texas state trooper was critically injured after being struck by a driver who had lost control of their vehicle, Director of the Texas Department of Public Safety Steve McCraw told AP.

“The roadways are very hazardous right now. We cannot overemphasize that,” Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said after a press briefing in Austin, according to the outlet.

Over 200,000 are without power in the state due to downed power lines and ice, CNN reported Wednesday morning. Although emergency crews were working to restore power as quickly as possible, road conditions were causing delays, Austin Energy spokesperson Matt Mitchell told the Austin-American Statesman. Mitchell said temperatures were set to move above freezing for at least a few hours later Wednesday, which he expected would help get power restored to customers sooner.

Airports across the country have canceled at least 1,700 flights, AP reported.

Republican Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders declared a state of emergency citing road conditions and the “likelihood of numerous downed power lines,” according to AP. She also said the hazardous road conditions were preventing “commercial vehicles from accomplishing their designated responsibilities of hauling heavy equipment, oversized loads, transformers, necessary hardware, and other transmission and distribution equipment to line crews for the purpose of restoring power to the citizens of the State of Arkansas,” 5 News Online reported, citing an executive action announcement from the governor’s office.

Interstate 40, a main highway that cuts across Arkansas, was dubbed “extremely hazardous” as icy conditions set the scene for over 15 wrecks Tuesday morning, Forrest City Fire Department Division Chief Jeremy Sharp told AP. “They hit the ice and they start wrecking,” he said.

At the onset of the storm Monday, National Weather Service meteorologist Marc Chenard announced that “several rounds” of wintry precipitation was to be expected through Wednesday in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Tennessee, according to AP. As the storm continues to move east, it will likely put more than 30 million people under a winter weather advisory from New Mexico to Virginia, CNN reported.