(Bioreports)The cold weather sweeping through much of the US will be sticking around Friday, but the good news is that it’s expected to warm up this weekend and into next week.
However, about 60 million people were still under winter weather advisories or warnings Friday morning, and about 30 million were under a hard freeze warning.
A slow warming can be expected across the South, but temperatures will remain much below normal into the weekend, according to the National Weather Service.
A system in the Northwest is expected to produce rain and mountain snow. And the NWS is warning that a “cold front will produce a wintry mix in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast with heavy rain that could cause flash flooding in the Southeast.” But, by next week temperatures are expected shoot up to the 60s and 70s.
Wintry weather has led to the deaths of at least 38 people across the country since February 11.
Power outages for hundreds of thousands
Power is still not back in many homes in Texas, where a deep freeze starting Sunday crippled utilities’ power generation, sending residents scrambling for alternative heating through generators, fireplaces, living in running cars, or sheltering in powered warming centers or businesses.
More than 180,000 homes and businesses in Texas still were without power Friday morning, down from 4.5 million earlier in the week, according to utility tracker PowerOutage.us.
Elsewhere in the country, about 400,000 other customers were without power Friday morning, including about 110,000 in Mississippi.
In Texas, power outages also have wreaked havoc on water supplies, in part because frozen water lines have been bursting. In homes themselves, bursting pipes also have damaged numerous homes and businesses.
About 13 million Texans, nearly half the state’s population, were under a boil-water advisory Thursday, according to Executive Director for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Toby Baker. More than 700 water supply systems are impacted.
President Joe Biden spoke with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday and promised the federal government will work with state and local authorities to bring relief and address the critical needs of the families suffering because of the weather.
Ehren Williamson told Bioreports he counts himself among the lucky Texans after having his power and water restored in the last 24 hours. But now Williamson has to worry about finding food to eat, and drinking water as there continues to be a boil water advisory.
“We went to multiple H-E-Bs and searched for about six to eight hours Tuesday for food,” he told Bioreports by phone from Pflugerville, Texas.
Today, Williamson waited in line for an hour at an H-E-B. Once inside the store, there was no water to be found anywhere.
“We had no warning,” he said. “We were given the impression that it wasn’t going to be bad. I didn’t even see the rolling blackout warnings. It just went dark.”
Had he been warned, he said he would have stocked up on food, water and a backup generator.
Other states also dealing with snow & ice
Texas is not the only state feeling the fury of the winter weather.
In Wayne, Pennsylvania, people are scrambling to try and clear the slushy snow before it freezes causing dangerous conditions, according to Bioreports affiliate 3CBS Philly. Wayne received 10-plus inches of snow during the storm. And now people are concerned what’s left after shoveling sidewalks and driveways is freezing and will make the roads slippery.
In North Carolina, some school districts in the Piedmont Triad area are canceling classes or moving to online instruction Friday to keep students safe, according to Bioreports affiliate WXII 12. A few schools still plan to have in-person learning, but plan to start two or three hours later than usual.
And in in Winston-Salem, a number of vehicles were crushed in a parking lot when a tree got uprooted and fell during the ice storm Thursday morning, WXII 12 reported.
“Well it kind of sounded like somebody blew off some dynamite the way it came down and just hit real hard,” resident Hope Woods told WXII 12. “We were brushing our teeth and I was like ‘OK I hear a bunch of commotion.’ So we look out the window and there’s this giant tree crushed on all the cars.”
But, despite the hardships being faced across the country, there are stories of hope.
A Philadelphia resident is offering free rides to essential workers, especially those in the health care sector, according to Bioreports affiliate WPVI. Ian Poush has been driving doctors, nurses, or any medical support staff who need help getting to work or home from their shifts, but can’t navigate the icy roads.
“Your regular hospital staff that needed to be there, your maintenance staff, your security guards, they’re essential as well. Yes, they’re not directly treating patients, but the doctors and nurses need them there,” Poush told WPVI. And he’s encouraging others to help out in their communities as well.
Warmer temperatures ahead
There are still over 25 million under a hard freeze warning in parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. But by the end of the weekend, temperatures will slowly be out of the sub-freezing range. And by next week, they’re expected to be in the 60s and 70s.
In the Northeast, over 60 million are under winter weather alerts, but a vast majority of them will expire by the end of Friday. Ice accumulation is expected in parts of North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. And much of the Northeast will see at least one to three inches of snow by the end of the storm system.
The eastern parts of the Carolinas and Georgia are under a flash flood watch and expect to get around one to two inches of rainfall.
Bioreports’s Robert Shackelford contributed to this story.