- Weather-related fatality reported in Arkansas
- For the first time in its 26-year history, a Dallas holiday parade is canceled
- Some schools in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee and Texas will be closed Friday
- A storm threatens the nation from New Mexico to New York
By Ed Payne, CNN
(CNN) — No matter how you spell it, ice is a four-letter word Friday.
Just ask folks living anywhere from Texas to Tennessee.
Those areas are in the bull’s-eye of a treacherous ice storm, threatening to coat everything in its path with up to an inch of frozen water.
Ice is slippery, but also heavy. It tends to bring down tree limbs and power lines when accumulations get thick.
An Arkansas man was killed late Thursday evening when a tree fell on his camper in Pope County, Arkansas Department of Emergency Management spokesman Tommy Jackson said Friday. Jackson said the death was related to the weather but couldn’t provide details about the weather at the time. Rain and freezing rain were reported in the area Thursday night.
In Tennessee, Memphis Light, Gas and Water has 426,000 customers and is ready for the worst.
“MLGW employees have been monitoring this winter storm situation and we have all of our resources in place should the winter weather hit Memphis and Shelby County,” said Jerry Collins Jr., the company’s president and CEO. “If indeed a significant storm blankets our city, we are ready to respond.”
The ice also makes travel messy, real messy.
Road crews in Memphis are ready to throw down 4,000 tons of sand to give drivers needed traction, CNN affiliate WMC reported.
The governors of Tennessee and Arkansas declared states of emergency ahead of the worst of the storm.
“The most unsettling aspect about Arkansas’ weather for most of us is its looming uncertainty,” said Mike Beebe, the governor of that state.
“During severe weather season, we know when conditions are ripe for tornadoes, but never exactly where and when they could strike. In winter, that uncertainty takes a different form but can still create widespread anxiety,” he said.
“Often, only a few degrees above or below the freezing mark can make the difference between a cold rain, a blanket of snow, an ice storm or a mixture of all of the above.”
In the Dallas-Forth World area, roads were passable overnight, but it was a fine line as temperatures slipped below freezing. The slushy mess slowly turned into crunchy, bumpy ice.
According to energy provider Oncor, nearly 232,000 customers were without power in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area as of Friday morning. This is the largest concentration of outages, with scattered outages elsewhere in the state.
Nearly 30,000 were without power in Arkansas, according to reports from energy companies.
The National Weather Service predicts a wintry mix of precipitation through Sunday.
That forecast prompted the cancellation of a downtown Dallas holiday parade scheduled for Saturday for the first time in 26 years.
The Dallas Marathon, which typically attracts 25,000 runners, plus family and friends, is still expected to be run Sunday.
“We want to give the race every opportunity to occur, yet being mindful to what the weather may bring us,” Deputy Chief Michael Genovesi of the Dallas Police Department told WFAA.
He said the course will be evaluated several times between now and race time, with a final call coming no later than Saturday.
“Our primary interest is making sure that event, if it goes off, is done safely,” he said. “Public safety will be our guiding concern.”
Schools in various cities have canceled classes for Friday, including in Oklahoma City; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Little Rock, Arkansas; and Dallas, authorities said. Classes were also canceled for some counties in western Tennessee, including Shelby, Fayette and Dyer.
In addition to the ice, a larger winter storm system fueled by a massive Arctic air blast is bringing snow and sleet to a much wider area, from New Mexico to New York.
And the Upper Midwest is locked in the deep freeze, with temperatures in some areas well below zero and wind chills even colder.
It’s a bit of shock these days getting off the plane in Minneapolis, especially if you’re flying in from Florida.
Thursday’s official high was 84 in Orlando. In the Twin Cities, it was 9.
So why are Floridians Bob and Verlaine Kolb in town? There’s the small matter of a granddaughter.
“We had a good reason to come back,” Verlaine Kolb told affiliate WCCO. “That darling little 5-year-old.”
Now that’s love.