ST. LOUIS, MO — 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.
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 situationand 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. Inwinter, 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, more than 181,000 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.
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 thatevent, if it goes off, is done safely,” he said. “Public safety will beour 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 ofshock 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.
By Ed Payne
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