Updated Feb 3, 2023 - Science

Hundreds of thousands without power in Texas after deadly ice storm

A tractor plowing ice from a trolly line in Memphis, Tennessee, January 2023.

A tractor plowing ice from a trolly line in Memphis, Tenn., January 2023. Photo: Seth Herald/AFP via Getty Images

The effects of a severe storm in the U.S. South that killed at least 10 people and forced the cancellation of hundreds of flights after unleashing sleet, snow and freezing rain were still being felt Friday.

The big picture: While temperatures were expected to return to the 40s and 50s across the region on Friday following the multi-day storm, an estimated 289,000 customers were without power in Texas in the morning.

  • Freezing fog was continuing across parts of Texas overnight as the storm pushed eastward, posing a threat to the early morning community ahead of more forecast sub-freezing low temperatures over Friday night into Saturday morning, per the National Weather Service.

Between the lines: The storm marked the latest test of Texas' power grid and local utilities.

State of play: Austin Energy tweeted that it couldn't immediately determine when power would be restored.

  • Some in Austin expressed frustration at insufficient communications from city officials over the storm and the outages, per NPR.
  • Austin Mayor Kirk Watson told reporters Thursday morning that a news conference on the outages should have happened earlier.
  • "I will admit that I deferred to folks so that they could be doing the jobs that they needed to do and [are] experts in the area, but I am frustrated and I know others are frustrated," Watson said.

By the numbers: Over 11 million people across the U.S. were under ice storm warnings issued by the NWS on Thursday, while another 4.2 million were under winter storm warnings.

  • More than 700 flights within, into or out of the U.S. were canceled Thursday, according to FlightAware. At least 1,000 flights were delayed.

The big picture: In addition to the 10 traffic deaths reported in Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma since the storm began Monday, there have been a series of crashes in the states.

  • Authorities said two Texas police officers were seriously injured after being hit by a vehicle on Interstate 45 while they were investigating another crash.
  • Dallas Independent School District, which serves more than 145,000 students, canceled classes for a third day over the storm on Thursday, as did Austin Independent School District, which serves around 74,000 students.
  • Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders declared a state of emergency in response to the storm on Tuesday, citing downed powerlines and dangerous road conditions.

Context: The storm was caused by a combination of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and Arctic air spilling south from Canada.

Go deeper:

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

Go deeper