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More than 850,000 power outages reported in cross-country winter storms

Written by on February 23, 2023

More than 850,000 power outages have been reported in winter storms across the US today, with more snow, icing and blizzard conditions ahead. The wintry weather has already closed roads and hampered air travel across the Midwest, with more than 40 inches of snow dumped in Wyoming and 32 inches in Montana over the past two days.

More than 60 million people are currently under winter weather alerts from the West into the northern Plains, Great Lakes region and New York and New England. Out West, in an extremely rare event, some parts of Southern California will be under blizzard warnings beginning Friday – the first blizzard alert of its kind since 1989. Meanwhile, the Southeast is basking in unseasonably high temperatures, with dozens of record highs expected today from Florida to as far north as Ohio.

Heavy snow already hit some of these areas over the past two days – including, as of early Thursday, more than 40 inches in parts of southern Wyoming; up to 32 inches in northwestern Montana; and generally 3-6 inches across Nebraska and the Dakotas.

Search and rescue operations were underway Wednesday evening in several counties across Wyoming to recover motorists that become trapped in heavy snow, the state highway patrol said.

In Minnesota, swaths of which saw 3-7 inches with locally higher amounts as of early Thursday, more than 160 vehicle crashes were reported and dozens of cars spun off roads Wednesday, Minnesota State Patrol spokesperson Lt. Gordon Shank said in a series of tweets.

In Wisconsin – similarly hit by snow since Tuesday in the north and freezing rain Wednesday in the south – Gov. Tony Evers declared a statewide energy emergency Wednesday, saying it will “allow for a more swift and efficient restoration of any electric power outages throughout the state,” a news release from his office said.

Perilous travel conditions are expected to continue in many of these areas Thursday. Snowfall of up to 1 to 2 inches per hour could hit parts of the West, the northern Plains and Great Lakes on Thursday, joined by winds as high as 40 to 50 mph, according to the National Weather Service. The combination will cause “significant impacts that will include major disruptions to travel, infrastructure, livestock and recreation,” the service said.

The upper Midwest and Northeast could see an additional 6 to 12 inches of snowfall, with locally higher amounts, through Thursday, the service said.

And an ice storm warning stretched Thursday morning from central Iowa to the Wisconsin-Illinois line and through southern Michigan – with freezing rain threatening ice accumulations that could make morning travel “nearly impossible” in places, the service said.

By By  and , CNN

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