From the southern Plains states to the Mississippi and Ohio Valley and further northeast, winter storm Cleon is being predicted to dump snow, sleet and freezing rain on a large portion of the country. Cleon, which is the fourth named storm of the 2013-14 winter season, has already impacted several states earlier this week. The large system dumped over a foot of snow in parts of the Rockies and Upper Midwest on Wednesday.
Forecasters say that ice accumulations of half an inch or more are possible Friday in Dallas, Little Rock and Memphis. If that does take place, the ice will weigh down limbs and power lines which will almost certainly cause widespread power outages. Travel will be dangerous across a large part of the United States this weekend because of the winter storm system that’s sweeping across the nation.
Cold and icy weather is settling in from the southern US up to the Great Lakes on Friday. The National Weather Service has winter storm and ice warnings in effect for many states including Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. Cleon’s nasty mix of freezing rain, sleet and snow will affect millions of people and is threatening to cut power for hundreds of thousands. Some forecasters believe that Cleon will be the worst ice storm the country has seen since 2009 and that it will affect the same areas as that storm. The early 2009 ice storm claimed dozens of lives and resulted in 2 million homes and businesses being left without power from Oklahoma to West Virginia.
As the winter ice storm marches east, most of the mid section and western part of the US will experience some bone-chilling cold temperatures through this weekend. Temperatures are expected to be 20 to 30 degrees below normal which won’t push the mercury levels above single digits in many locations. The entire state of Wyoming was already below zero early Friday morning, prompting many outdoor events and venues there to close.
State and local officials are reminding people all across the country to be ready for winter weather. Now is the time people should be stocking up on supplies such as flashlights, drinking water, canned food, blankets, etc. The massive ice storm that’s causing problems in the US now is also a good reminder for homeowners to protect their pipes from freeze-ups. If a water pipe were to freeze and break, it could result in a devastating home flood. This is the time of the year when homeowners also should inspect their fireplaces and chimneys. Those who haven’t done so in a year or two, should their chimneys cleaned out to lower the risk of fire.