Nastey snow storm and CA Firesgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread
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Fierce Winter Storm Ices Over American Heartland
DALLAS (Reuters) - A fierce winter storm iced over the U.S. heartland, prompting travel warnings across the region and leaving hundreds of thousands without power.
Up to a foot of snow and two inches of ice covered parts of Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Louisiana as the cold wave moved eastward across the southern Great Plains.
Highways, schools and airports shut down Tuesday because of the treacherous conditions, which were blamed for at least two traffic deaths in Oklahoma.
In New Mexico, where the storm brewed up on Christmas Day, police said four people died in weather-related accidents on Monday.
American Airlines, apologizing for the disruption on one of the year's busiest travel days, said it canceled 738 flights, or 60 percent of its capacity at its main hub at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport. More cancellations were likely, the carrier said.
"It's about as bad as it gets for travel. We expect it to continue and conditions may get worse before we get any improvement," said meteorologist David Andra at the National Weather Service office in Norman, Oklahoma.
With temperatures in the 20s in much of the region and a steady freezing rain or snow falling, a thick layer of ice was building on streets, trees and bridges.
The Oklahoma Department of Public Safety warned people from traveling because of "slick and hazardous" road conditions in all but the southeastern corner of the state.
Utility companies said at least 250,000 people in the region had no electricity, primarily because of icy tree branches falling on power lines.
Many outages occurred in the same areas that lost power for several days during an ice storm two weeks ago.
James Thompson, a spokesman for Entergy Inc., said the utility company had 4,000 service employees on the job or at the ready as the icy buildup continued.
"One thing we're having to fight is that road conditions are so bad it makes it doubly difficult to get repair crews where they need to be," he said.
Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee told CNN that 20 counties in the state had been declared disaster areas and that some homes had no power, water or telephone service. "They've literally been blasted by the ice back into the primitive ages," he said.
The airports in Oklahoma City, Little Rock, Arkansas, and Shreveport, Louisiana, were closed, officials said.
In Dallas, heavy rains were expected to turn to ice later in the day, but a spokesman for Dallas-Fort Worth Airport said the airport was still open.
American Airlines issued massive cancellations because of the fear the worsening weather would leave thousands of passengers stranded in Dallas.
"We recognize that any flight cancellation is an inconvenience, but feel it is much better for passengers to remain where they are rather to fly into potentially icy and severe conditions," said American vice president Tim Doke in a statement.
Delta Airlines said the weather also forced it cancel a "significant number" of flights.
Unseasonable cold had much of North America in its grip on Tuesday. In Toronto, authorities issued an "extreme cold warning" as temperatures were expected to dip to -1 Fahrenheit on Tuesday night.
In Chicago, temperatures plunged to 12 degrees Fahrenheit and snow flurries slowed air and road traffic at the city's two airports, O'Hare International and Midway, which expected to see 250,000 passengers on Tuesday.
A flight attendant on one Chicago-bound flight announced that the plane's toilet plumbing was frozen and asked passengers to "hold it until we arrive."
In California, the problem was fire, not ice, as 600 acres near a wealthy Los Angeles suburb that is home to several celebrities were charred by a blaze fueled by 60 mph winds.
The fire threatened a housing development that is home to film stars, including Will Smith and Martin Lawrence.
-- (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 27, 2000