(CNN) — Hundreds of thousands of people were without power in Texas on Thursday amid sweltering heat and icy roads, bracing for a blast of freezing winds that forecasters say will be the coldest the Northeast has felt in decades.
Texas is bearing the brunt of a dangerous snowstorm that dumped several rounds of snow and freezing rain that caused life-threatening conditions on highways in neighboring states including Oklahoma, Arkansas and the Memphis area of Tennessee.
On Wednesday, Texas reported a third person died during the storm after losing control of their truck on an icy road north of El Dorado. One person was killed in a 10-car pileup in Austin and another died when their car overturned in the Dallas-area city of Arlington, authorities said.
As temperatures slowly rise, some relief is expected from Thursday’s deadly storm, which dumped layers of snow and ice that snapped tree limbs and knocked out power to nearly 400,000 homes. According to PowerOutage.us. That means thousands of people don’t have heat or hot water because ice covers the ground.
Overnight and early Thursday, an additional quarter-inch of snow covered already slippery roads, particularly in central and northern Texas, southern Oklahoma and Arkansas.
In many places “this will bring the total snow accumulation from the storm to more than 0.5,” increasing the risk of significant tree damage and power outages, as well as icy and dangerous roads. “The snow may mix with freezing rain at times, increasing the chances of icy roads,” the National Weather Service said.
As Texas and the South Central wait for warmer temperatures, another winter storm forming in the Northeast has raised alarm bells for forecasters about the possibility of temperatures below zero degrees Fahrenheit this Friday and Saturday.
“This is an epic, generational arctic blast,” the National Weather Service said in Caribou, Maine. “The air moving into the region this Friday into Friday night is currently the coldest air in the Northern Hemisphere.”
By late Thursday night, the Northeast will begin to feel freezing temperatures, prompting officials in several states to announce preparedness.
In Connecticut, the governor activated the state’s severe cold weather protocol Thursday afternoon through the weekend.
“With extreme cold ahead, ice can form on exposed skin in less than 30 minutes. Spending long periods outside in these conditions is not only harmful, it’s dangerous,” said Governor Ned Lamont.
Shelters and warming centers are available throughout Connecticut, and transportation may be provided when needed, the governor added.
Similarly, warming centers are expected to be available in Maine, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Vermont, officials said.
In Boston, the mayor declared a cold emergency for the city this Friday through Sunday due to strong low temperatures.
“I urge all Bostonians to take precautions, stay warm and safe, and check on your neighbors during this cold emergency,” said Mayor Michael Wu.
More than 6,000 flights have been canceled so far this week
So far this week, 6,236 flights in and out of the United States have been canceled, including 703 as of Thursday at 8:15 a.m. ET, according to flight tracking site FlightAware.
Nearly half of the nation’s flight cancellations, 333 flights, occurred from Dallas-Fort Worth, Dallas Love Field and Austin-Bergstrom airports in Texas, where wintry weather is causing travel problems and snow is expected to continue into the morning and early morning hours.
American Airlines, with its largest hub at DFW, led the way with more than 400 cancellations.
Extreme cold will affect millions of people this weekend
More than 15 million people in the Northeast are expected to be under a wind chill watch or advisory from Thursday night or Friday morning through at least Saturday afternoon.
The National Weather Service issues a wind chill warning when the wind is expected to be -31 degrees Celsius or colder.
Wind chill warnings are in effect for all of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, northern Connecticut, eastern and central New York and northeastern Pennsylvania.
In northern New England, temperatures will drop to 25-31 degrees below zero over the weekend. In addition, colder temperatures will be expected with winds of 25 to 40 mph, making it feel as low as minus 23 degrees Celsius as far south as New York City.
“Avoid outdoor activities on Friday and Saturday! Low temperatures and wind chill factor could lead to life-threatening conditions outside,” New Hampshire Homeland Security and Emergency Management said in a statement. Facebook registration Wednesday afternoon.
Meanwhile, parts of northern New York and northern New England will experience temperatures ranging from -37 to -45 degrees Celsius, with some locations experiencing wind chills as low as 54 degrees below zero. These extreme conditions can cause frostbite within five minutes.
“In the northern part of this (New England) region, temperatures below minus 45 degrees may be the coldest temperatures seen in decades,” the National Weather Service said.
The cold snap is expected to be brief and temperatures to rise in most areas on Sunday afternoon.
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