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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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