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Winter storm alerts, power outages cover the map as storms slam U.S.

By
Chaffin Mitchell, AccuWeather & UPI Staff, Accuweather.com
Authorities respond to a crash in Oklahoma involving several semi-trailer trucks and passenger vehicles on Sunday. Photo courtesy of Oklahoma Highway Patrol/Twitter
Authorities respond to a crash in Oklahoma involving several semi-trailer trucks and passenger vehicles on Sunday. Photo courtesy of Oklahoma Highway Patrol/Twitter

Feb. 15 (UPI) --

The busiest winter weather pattern in decades impacted a large swath of the United States over the holiday weekend, causing massive power outages and slippery travel from coast to coast as multiple storms unleashed snow and ice.

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Winter storm warnings were in effect early Monday throughout the South Central states, as a major winter storm bore down on the region.

The National Weather Service warned late Sunday of "major winter weather" throughout the southern and mid-southern states that could last into Monday night and in some cases into Tuesday.

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Power outages approached 1 million on Saturday while winter storms turned off the power for more than 800,000 customers across the United States, according to PowerOutage.us.

Oregon, Virginia and North Carolina were among the hardest-hit states in terms of outages.

By early Monday, more than 624,000 customers in Oregon, Texas, Virginia, North Carolina and Kentucky were without power.

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A path of snow extended from the westernmost parts of Washington and Oregon, down to New Mexico and Texas, all the way to Michigan.

Northwest

A major snowstorm broke out across Washington and Oregon early on Saturday, leaving up to 2 feet of snow in some places over the span of the weekend.

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Snow piled up to 6 inches in downtown Seattle, Wash., early Saturday. Plows hit the roads as cars and busses struggled up steep hills on snowy, slippery roads.

Some places in Oregon, including Mount Hood and Zigzag, reported two feet of snow within the span of 24 hours on Saturday. By Sunday, much of the coast of the two states reported up to a foot, including Seattle.

Daily record snowfall totals were observed in both Seattle, Washington, and Portland, Oregon, on Saturday. Seattle recorded 8.9 inches of snow, which tied a record for the 12th snowiest day on record.

By early Monday, more than 258,000 customers in Oregon were without power.

Gov. Kate Brown said she declared a state of emergency as the storm overnight Saturday "has left extensive damage."

The city of Salem, Ore., also declared a state of emergency that began on Saturday and will remain in effect for seven days.

The southernmost parts of Wyoming also received snow in the double digits, even touching 50 inches at Sugar Loaf Campground.

South

While snow spread across the country, ice began to coat the roads in Nashville, Tenn. The Nashville Fire Department sent multiple resources to assist with a multiple vehicle accident that were involved on I-24 on Saturday. Emergency responders asked for people to please avoid the area, or use extreme caution if travel is a must.

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On Sunday, an accident between multiple semi-trailer trucks and passenger vehicles turned fiery on the Turner Turnpike westbound in Oklahoma. Traffic relating to the crash is being diverted to Hogback road, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol tweeted.

The crash involved two semi-trucks and at least six vehicles. Several people were transported to a hospital, The Oklahoman reported.

The Oklahoma National Guard also announced Sunday that troopers aided a woman injured in a multi-vehicle accident in Oklahoma City on Sunday.

"Pleas stay off the roads," the National Guard said via Twitter. "if you can't, SLOW DOWN."

The entire states of Oklahoma and Texas were under winter weather alerts on Saturday. A winter storm watch was issued in Brownsville, which is the first winter storm watch the town has seen in a decade.

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Gov. Greg Abbot had issued a state of emergency for all of Texas and requested an emergency declaration from the White House, which President Joe Biden approved on Sunday to make resources and departments available to coordinate disaster relief efforts.

"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. "Stay off the roads, take conscious steps to conserve energy, and avoid dangerous practices like bringing generators indoors or heating homes with ovens or stovetops."

Harris County, Texas, Judge Lina Hidalgo signed a disaster declaration for the entire county on Sunday to allow emergency officials "the flexibility to utilize every available resource to respond to this historic weather," Hildago said. Harris County, where Houston is located, is the third most populous county in the U.S.

"The hour of this historic storm is upon us, the time to hunker down is here," Hidalgo tweeted late Sunday. "We may not be used to this weather, but with annual hurricane season no one knows how to shelter in place like we do. We've been through a lot together. We'll get through this."

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Southwest

Las Vegas also received its fair share of severe weather. On Saturday, the National Weather Service reported that winds reached 73 mph at the airport in northern Las Vegas, just shy of category 1 hurricane-strength wind speeds.

The NWS warned people in the area to stay inside and for drivers moving through to remain on alert. A severe thunderstorm warning was also in effect for parts of the county.

NV Energy, an energy provider in Nevada, also reminded people to avoid downed power lines as they could be energized.

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