April 22, 2021

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Ice storm causes treacherous roads and Covid-19 vaccination delays as it sweeps across South

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As millions hunkered down and awaited conditions to improve, health departments and elected officials urged those in the regions to anticipate possible power outages.

The breadth of the storm stretched from Texas to Virginia, with the greatest impact expected to be felt in Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, and parts of Missouri and Illinois. An estimated 6.5 million people are affected, according to CNN meteorologist Michael Guy. The area is expected to receive 0.25-0.5 inches of ice accretion by Thursday evening.

“Expect dangerous and potentially life-threatening travel conditions,” the National Weather Service (NWS) in Louisville, Kentucky warned late Wednesday.

Areas in East Arkansas and West Tennessee along the Interstate 40 corridor could see ice accumulations up to 0.75 inches, according to the local National Weather Service in Memphis. South Central and Eastern Kentucky are also expected to see close to the same amount.

“It has been over eight years since this part of the Bluegrass State has had an ice storm warning and people can forget how disruptive these storms are,” Guy said.

Impacts from the severe ice storm can last for days, even weeks, in rural parts of the country.

The coldest air in years is hitting parts of the US
“We ask Kentuckians to be cautious of roadway conditions that will be hazardous,” Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said Wednesday. “Please stay off the roadways unless necessary.”
Approximately 80,000 customers across Kentucky and West Virginia were without power early Thursday morning, according to data from PowerOutage.US.
In Arkansas, public works crews in Little Rock raced to treat overpasses, bridges and steep streets Wednesday in preparation for ice to form on roadways. However, conditions throughout the region became especially hazardous with nightfall. Several accidents were reported along Interstate 55 in Arkansas near the Blytheville area in the far northeast corner of the state.

Many schools, stretching from north Texas to West Virginia, are closed Thursday, with some districts that returned to in-person attendance shifting to online learning for the day.

Covid-19 vaccine disruptions

The ice storm disrupted Covid-19 vaccination efforts as well. In Tulsa, Oklahoma, residents scheduled to receive vaccines Wednesday were told of their postponements due to winter weather advisories affecting the area.

More state leaders are loosening Covid-19 restrictions. Experts have warned it may be too soon

Health department locations and their phone bank were closed, according to the Tulsa health department’s website. Those with vaccine appointments will be notified of rescheduled vaccination times.

The Shelby County Health Department, which covers Memphis and parts of Southwest Tennessee, announced its vaccine sites would be closed Thursday due to the storm. Individuals scheduled for vaccination will have their times moved to February 18.
Denton County, on the north end of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, canceled its Thursday appointments at vaccine clinics due to the icy conditions, with recipients of the vaccine to be instead inoculated Friday at Texas Motor Speedway.

“We do not want to bring our residents out on icy roads or have our crews and volunteers working in below-freezing weather,” Judge Andy Eads said.

CNN’s Jennifer Hauser contributed to this report.

2021-02-11 04:28:38

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