Updated Feb 4, 2022 - Science

"Treacherous" winter storm hits Northeast after blasting South and Midwest

Edward Caldwell works to clear a downed tree at his moms house on February 3, 2022 in Memphis, Tenn.
A man works to clear a downed tree in Memphis, Tenn. Photo: Brad Vest/Getty Images

A sprawling winter storm that has forced schools to close, knocked out power and massively disrupted road and air travel is expected to blast the Northeast U.S. with heavy snowfall and "treacherous" ice accumulations on Friday before exiting over the Atlantic Ocean this weekend, the National Weather Service said.

Driving the news: Multiple governors declared states of emergency as heavy snow, freezing rain and ice pummeled much of the Central, Eastern and Southern U.S. On the warm side of the storm, thunderstorms spawned tornadoes in Alabama that killed one person Thursday.

The latest: The storm will bring with it temperatures ranging between 15 to 30 degrees below average from the Southern Plains to the Ohio Valley, per NWS.

  • The storm was expected to dump several inches of snow and sleet in Maine on Friday, while parts of central Massachusetts could see a quarter inch of ice.
  • The NWS said even the northern Mid-Atlantic could receive as much as a tenth of an inch of ice accumulation.

The big picture: Over 133,000 customers were without power in Tennessee, mainly in Memphis, Friday afternoon, according to tracking site poweroutage.us

  • More than 76,000 others in Ohio, nearly 24,000 in West Virginia, 30,000 in Pennsylvania and about 60,000 in New York had no electricity.
  • Thursday was one of the worst days for air travel this year, with some 5,200 U.S. flights canceled. Over 3,600 others scheduled for Friday were also canceled, per flight tracking site FlightAware.
  • The NWS warned that after northern Alabama was hit by tornadoes, flash flooding could impact the south of the state Friday.

State of play: Conditions worsened throughout Thursday, particularly in parts of Kentucky and Tennessee, where temperatures at ground level were below freezing, but warmer air was in place aloft, causing rain to fall and freeze on contact with any surface.

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Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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