Amid Winter Storms, Power Outages and a Skidding Plane

Several dozen deaths have been registered so far across the nation due to cold, rain, snow, wind
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 19, 2024 11:11 AM CST
Amid Winter Storms, Power Outages and a Skidding Plane
A man works to remove a tree limb from the top of his mother's car on Wednesday in Eugene, Oregon.   (Chris Pietsch/The Register-Guard via AP)

Storms that have turned roads into icy death traps, frozen people to death from Oregon to Tennessee, and even sent a plane skidding off a taxiway were expected to sock both coasts with another round of weather chaos on Friday. New York City—which only on Tuesday saw its first significant snow in more than two years—was in the headlights as the National Weather Service laid out warnings of slightly more than 2 inches of snow through Friday in the metropolitan area, with New Jersey and Pennsylvania also getting snow, per the AP. On Thursday, an American Airlines plane slid off a snowy taxiway in Rochester, New York, after a flight from Philadelphia. No injuries were reported.

On the West Coast, Oregon's governor declared a statewide emergency Thursday night after requests for aid from multiple counties "as they enter the sixth day of severe impacts" from weather marked by freezing rain. Thousands of residents have been without power since Saturday in parts of Oregon's Willamette Valley after an ice storm caused extensive damage. "We lost power on Saturday, and we were told yesterday that it would be over two weeks before it's back on," said one real-estate broker in Jasper, Lane County. In the past two weeks, storms have blasted much of the US with rain, snow, wind, and frigid temperatures, snarling traffic and air travel and causing at least 45 deaths.

That included three people electrocuted on Wednesday by a downed power line in Portland, Oregon. A man trying to get out of a parked car covered by the line died with a baby in his arms after slipping on the icy driveway and hitting the live wire. The baby survived. His pregnant 21-year-old girlfriend and her 15-year-old brother died when they tried to help. Their father, Ronald Briggs, told KGW-TV that he helplessly watched their deaths. "I have six kids. I lost two of them in one day," he said. Crews had made steady progress restoring power to tens of thousands of customers in Oregon after back-to-back storms, but by Friday morning, more than 107,000 were without electricity, per Portland Public Schools canceled classes for the fourth straight day amid concerns about icy roads and water damage to buildings, and state offices in Portland were also ordered closed Friday.

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In Washington, DC, schools closed again for the second time in a week as snow softly fell, and the government was on a two-hour delay. The weather service expected 4 to 6 inches in the region. Schools were also closed due to Friday weather in many counties in Maryland, northern Virginia, and West Virginia, where the governor declared a state of emergency on Thursday. Bitter weather continued in the South, where a new layer of ice formed over parts of Tennessee on Thursday—part of a broader bout of cold sweeping the country. Authorities blamed at least 14 deaths in Tennessee on the system, which dumped more than 9 inches of snow since Sunday on parts of Nashville, a city that rarely sees such accumulations. Temperatures also fell below zero in parts of the state, creating the largest power demand ever across the seven states served by the Tennessee Valley Authority. More here.

(More cold weather stories.)

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