A mix of wintry weather conditions is bringing warnings and advisories for some 150 million people, stretching from the Northwest down to the Texas border into the Northeastern U.S. early into the week.
Historic snowfalls were recorded in Seattle on Saturday, according to the National Weather Service, with nearly 9 inches, the city’s highest recorded total since 1969. The city also shut down some coronavirus vaccination sites, but kept testing centers open. Further south in Oregon, the city of Portland reported 10 inches of snow Saturday with, as the Associated Press reports, power outages leaving some 200,000 residents in the region in the dark that night.
Snow and wintry conditions throughout the Pacific Northwest also caused accidents and massive disruptions to transportation. Oregon’s Department of Transportation noted that trees and power lines downed by the storm and ice had shut down roads throughout the state. Authorities also briefly closed a portion of Interstate 84 that runs through the Columbia Gorge, citing blowing snow and frozen roads. The highway was at least partially reopen on Sunday.
The mix of treacherous weather and travel conditions prompted action from authorities. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown declared a state of emergency for Portland and surrounding areas on Saturday. Advisories and warnings were kept in place for much of the Pacific Northwest through Sunday night and into early Monday.
The National Weather Service also said Sunday that parts of the Northwest could brace for another Pacific storm system, which would bring some of its densest snowfall to the Cascade mountain range. Parts of Idaho, Wyoming and the central Rockies could see more than a foot of snow, according to forecasters.
Wintry conditions are also affecting large parts of the U.S., extending — in a very rare occurrence — through the South, including Texas where Gov. Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration for all of the state’s 254 counties. As of Sunday afternoon, the entire state was under a winter storm warning, the first time in a decade for some parts of the state. Abbott also said he would request a federal emergency declaration from the White House to make available additional resources.
“Every part of the state will face freezing conditions over the coming days, and I urge all Texans to remain vigilant against the extremely harsh weather that is coming,” Abbott said in a Saturday statement.
In Houston, where the AP notes, temperatures in the 70s were reported earlier this week, officials closed down schools and warned residents to stay off the roads beginning Sunday night and into Tuesday. The National Weather Service in Houston said parts of southeast Texas could see temperatures drop into the single digits Tuesday morning, with will chills near or below zero throughout the region.
The National Weather Service said snow, falling heavily at times, would be common from New Mexico to the Mississippi Valley on Sunday, with some of the heaviest totals in central Oklahoma and New Mexico’s Sacramento Mountains.
In addition, the service said areas from the Texas coast to the Tennessee Valley would see significant ice accumulations into Monday, when the worst of the storm’s ice-related effects are predicted. Icy conditions are also expected to extend through the Northeast.
The Weather Service also predicts snowfall of up to 12 inches in places on Tuesday from Central Oklahoma all the way through East Texas and into the Northeast.