ARLINGTON, VA. – A wave of harsh winter weather and bitterly cold temperatures left part of the Pacific Northwest and parts of the East covered by ice, snow and power outages as more bad weather hit the southern plains of the country.
The storm that devastated the west left more than 200,000 homes and businesses without power in Oregon alone on Sunday. Parts of the east were covered with ice and more than 270,000 Virginia homes and businesses were dark.
The near-record-breaking cold temperatures may be due in part to the Polar Vortex, a large area of low pressure and cold air that surrounds both poles of the earth and has sunk into the United States. The result was brutal conditions for hundreds of millions of Americans this week.
Oregon Governor Kate Brown declared a state of emergency late Saturday. Heat centers and other services were offered.
“The crews are in full force,” Brown said in a statement. “I am determined to provide government funding to ensure the crews have the resources they need on the ground.”
The National Weather Service said Oregon, Washington and Idaho should prepare for another surge in winter humidity on Sunday evening, which could potentially result in heavier snowfall by Monday. The “unexplained winter conditions” would likely continue all week, said the weather service.
Winter storms and extreme cold hit much of the western United States, particularly at risk for homeless communities. Volunteers worked to ensure that homeless residents in Casper, Wyoming, were indoors when the National Weather Service warned of wind chill reaching 35 degrees below zero.
Winter storm: Bad weather is targeting the east this weekend
The south was not liberated. The winter storm warnings were in effect until Monday when a number of southern cities were prepared for snow, ice and bitterly cold conditions.
Arlington was covered in ice on Sunday morning.
“Travel only when necessary,” said the district’s environmental agency on Twitter on Sunday. “The crews are still checking / salting known problem areas, but freezing temperatures are the best guarantee of safety.”
By early Sunday, snow spread across plains such as Amarillo, Texas, Oklahoma City, and Wichita, Kansas. Accuweather on Monday predicted daytime snow and ice accumulation for a list of cities not used to such wintry weather, including Monroe and Shreveport, Louisiana, Little Rock, Arkansas, and Memphis, Tennessee. Everyone could see at least a couple of inches of fresh snow.
In Texas, before the storm, Governor Greg Abbott issued a state of emergency and requested a federal emergency declaration from the White House.
“Every part of the state will be exposed to freezing conditions in the coming days, and I urge all Texans to remain vigilant against the extremely harsh weather,” Abbott said. “Stay away from the streets, take conscious steps to conserve energy, and avoid dangerous practices such as bringing generators indoors or heating homes with stoves or hobs.”
The Texas city of Lubbock was preparing for 3 to 5 inches of snow; Areas outside the city could see up to 8 inches. Temperatures were forecast to plunge into negative numbers overnight, and wind chill temperatures of minus 21 ° C could occur on Monday, the National Weather Service forecast.
“Travel could be very difficult,” warned the weather service. “Snow areas can seriously affect visibility. Road conditions become dangerous.”
In El Paso, the city water authorities urged residents to “protect their pipes from the cold front” to avoid costly repairs and damage.
“When water freezes, it increases in volume by almost 10% and the pressure can lead to broken water pipes,” the water company said in a statement.
Experts recommended insulating outer pipes and even allowing cold water to drip from the taps. By running a drop of water through the pipes, you can prevent the pipes from freezing as the water temperature is above freezing.
In Louisiana, the State Department of Transportation has closed bridges, overpasses, and interstate ramps in the northeastern part of the state. The National Weather Service forecast a mix of snow, sleet, and winter across the region on Sunday and Monday.
Temperatures were expected to hit record lows and not rise above freezing for several days.
“Winter storm warnings and winter weather warnings have been issued for significant ice accumulation and impact,” New Orleans’ National Weather Service tweeted Sunday. “In some areas, ice of more than half an inch is possible, but even a trace of freezing rain is dangerous.”
Featuring: Bonnie Bolden, Monroe, Louisiana News Star