Supply teams made headway after about 350,000 homes and businesses were left in the dark in an area from Texas to Ohio on Thursday. Additional power outages were reported in New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
One of the hardest-hit places was Memphis, where 120,000 customers were without power in Shelby County alone, according to poweroutage.us, which tracks utility reports.
Memphis resident Michael LaRosa described the snaps and bangs as tree branches fell and the dull hum and pop of transformers exploding in his tree-lined Midtown neighborhood. A fire broke out at the end of his street on Thursday, caused by a live line.
“It was pretty surreal for a while,” LaRosa, a Rhodes College professor and book editor, said Friday. “There were people walking the streets and I was afraid that limbs might fall on them. The neighborhood collapsed pretty quickly and quite spectacularly.”
Crews on Friday worked to clear trees and fallen power lines from city streets while those who lost power spent a cold night at home or took refuge in hotels or homes of friends and family. Utility officials said it could be days before power is restored.
It will also take days to clear 225 fallen trees on city streets, and crews worked 16-hour shifts to get the job done, Robert Knecht, Memphis public works director, said Thursday night.
With many schools closed, children took advantage of the snowy weather to enjoy themselves, but a fun outing turned tragic in Oklahoma, where a 12-year-old boy was killed while sledding on Thursday. Police said Friday they were investigating the hit-and-run accident in the Tulsa suburb of Broken Arrow.
Tragedy also struck western Alabama, where a tornado on Thursday killed one person and seriously injured three others, Hale County emergency management director Russell Weeden told local news outlets.
The storm represented a “highly energized system” in which low-pressure waves traveled like a train from Texas, where there was snowfall and freezing temperatures, to Maine and the Canadian seas, said Hunter Tubbs, a weather forecaster with the National Weather Service in Maine.
Airlines have canceled about 3,400 flights as of midday Friday, with the highest number of cancellations in Dallas-Fort Worth and at New York City and Boston-area airports, according to tracking service FlightAware.
In the Pittsburgh area, commuter train service was suspended Friday when a power line went out and cars were trapped at an Allegheny County Port Authority rail yard.
In New York’s Hudson Valley, the Catskill Animal Sanctuary was on generators Friday after the night’s ice storm.
“We had trees all over the property and trees on our street,” said Kathy Stevens, founder of the shelter for rescued farm animals.
But the roughly 250 animals at Saugerties were doing fine, she said. Large animals took shelter in barns, and smaller animals were taken to offices, the infirmary, and other places to shelter from falling trees.
In Texas, the return of freezing weather nearly a year after the catastrophic February 2021 freeze that shut down the state’s power grid for days and resulted in hundreds of deaths in one of the worst power outages in U.S. history has raised concerns.
But Gov. Greg Abbott said Thursday’s power outages were due to high winds or downed power lines, not grid outages. Around 18,000 homes and businesses in Texas were left without power as of Friday morning.
In New England, some locations welcomed winter weather that was a boon to skiers and snowmobilers.
In Vermont, nobody complained at Stowe Mountain Resort Friday, where skiers and snowboarders reported some of the best conditions of the season with more than 10 inches of snow overnight and snow falling.
“We’re just having a blast, the sauce is flowing,” said Jared Marshall of Denmark, Maine, a member of the Colby Sawyer College ski team in New Hampshire who was in town for a ski meet.
Sharp reported from Portland, Maine; Foody reported from Chicago; and Bleed reported from Little Rock, Arkansas. Associated Press writer Adrian Sainz in Memphis, Tennessee; Wilson Ring in Stowe, Vermont; Marina Villeneuve and Michael Hill in Albany, New York; Ken Miller in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Paul J. Weber in Austin, Texas; David Koenig, Jake Bleiberg and Terry Wallace in Dallas; Paul Davenport in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Seth Borenstein of Kensington, Maryland; Rick Callahan in Indianapolis and Jay Reeves in Alabaster, Alabama, contributed to this report.
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