A severe winter storm is said to have already been responsible for eight fatalities and has continued its journey eastward through the Southwest over the week end. This storm caused hundreds of flights to be either delayed or cancelled as many families have begun their travel home for Thanksgiving.
In the meantime, the National Weather Service is calling this artic air mass, which is carrying freezing temperatures to the upper Midwest as well as to the Northeast, the coldest weather of the season
This mass of freezing temperatures made its way into such states as Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico this past Sunday. Heavy snow covered several areas of New Mexico and the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport began proactively cancelling flights to the effected areas.
An official for the DFW International Airport released a statement saying that machines used for deicing were prepared. Officials with the airport took in a flurry of conference calls and gathered in several meetings to determine how to respond to the weather complications and give travelers the best service possible.
A spokesman for the National Weather Service, Dennis Cain, was quoted by the Los Angeles Times as saying that this type of weather at this time of year was not rare but also not common. “This is more of a January, February-type weather event,” Cain said. Every year, winter weather can contribute to a number of deaths, but the recent fatalities are not as common in this early in the season.
In spite of the dramatic and swift change from autumn to winter, Texas is fortunate, as the temperature has remained above freezing for the most part. However, a band of icy weather did hit the state early Monday. Cain offered a literal ray of hope, however, forecasting that sunshine was headed that way and Texas travelers should have no problem getting out and about on Thanksgiving Day. The East Coast, however, will not be as lucky as the Southwest. Cain said that the temperature on the Eastern seaboard was considered cold even by January standards.
Approximately 43 million Americans are said to plan on travelling more than 50 miles this Thanksgiving holiday, according to the American Automobile Association. On Wednesday, the biggest day of travel for this particular holiday, the East Coast is expected to get slammed with heavy winter precipitation.
Senior AccuWeather meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski said that a large part of the Appalachians and northern New England will encounter heavy snow. Pydnowski said this snow is expected on Wednesday and the timing could not be worse for holiday travelers in the area. Meteorologists report that travel conditions should be great for the remainder of the United States.
In California, winter weather was responsible for three deaths on Saturday. Two Oakland residents died Thursday in incidents that were related to the winter storms. One of these men was believed to have been electrocuted by a falling power line. Another man died when his vehicle crashed into a tree while trying to dodge debris from the storm. A woman in Northern California was killed when a tree collapsed and fell on her vehicle.
In addition, New Mexico and Arizona each reported a winter weather related death. Three such deaths occurred in Texas. This storm is responsible for several fatalities as it made its way across the country, but meteorologists are certain that travelers should be safe on the road for the holiday for the most part.
By Rick Hope