2021 gets off to a slick start as winter storm arrives


NEW YORK CITY (NewsNation Now) — A major New Year’s storm is impacting millions of Americans, bringing ice, heavy snow and torrential rain throughout the country.

Sleet and freezing rain were falling in San Angelo, Texas, according to National Weather Service, with up to five inches of snow on the road. Some drivers spent New Year’s Eve stranded on a stretch of highway in west Texas.

In Odessa, Texas, in the Permian Basin oil patch, a winter weather shelter was opened that would be available through Friday. Federal guidelines for social distancing to stop the spread of COVID-19 will be enforced at the shelter, the city said.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt issued and emergency declarations for much of the state, and a winter storm warning was in effect in the region until Friday, extending as far north as northwestern Oklahoma, where up to 6 inches of snow is forecast.

Nearly 20,000 Oklahoma homes and businesses were without power early Friday after a winter storm dumped snow and ice across a large swath of the state.

Forecasters are predicting a snowy, icy start to the new year across a large swath of Kansas and Missouri.

Scott Blair, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said the wintry mix will head northward into the two states from Oklahoma and Arkansas in the early morning hours Friday.

Much of the area is under either a winter storm warning or winter weather advisory.

In Chicago, there have been reports of many accidents and spin outs along expressways I-80 and I-57.

Employees with the Illinois Tollway have opened their snow operations center to manage the storm. They have just shy of 200 snow plows running around clearing roads.

They’re utilizing 80,000 tons of salt and 50,000 gallons of liquid calcium chloride to clear the roads.

“Unless you have to drive, slow under the speed limit,” said motorist Danny Bowers. “Better to get there than not get there at all.”

Up north, 1-4 inches of snow is expected – with the highest amounts near the Wisconsin state line.

The worst of the weather will stretch from east-central and northeast Kansas into northwest and central Missouri.

More than a quarter inch of ice could coat surfaces in some areas, and snowfall accumulations will range from 2 to 4 inches.

The storm has now arrived on the East Coast.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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