January 31, 2023 Ice storm hits the South and central US

By Adrienne Vogt, Maureen Chowdhury and Tori B. Powell, CNN

Updated 9:59 p.m. ET, January 31, 2023
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9:43 p.m. ET, January 31, 2023

Ice storm warnings expanded to portions of western and central Texas for Wednesday

From CNN's Taylor Ward

The National Weather Service expanded the ice storm warnings across portions of western and central Texas. This includes areas around Midland as well as areas just west of Dallas, including Fort Worth.

The majority of these areas were under winter storm warnings today for a mix of freezing rain and sleet. The change to ice storm warnings is because the precipitation is expected to be almost exclusively freezing rain Wednesday and Wednesday night. 

This round of precipitation is also expected to be the heaviest of the week. Locations across central Texas have received around half an inch to an inch of sleet and up to a quarter of an inch of freezing rain since Monday. 

Areas under ice storm warnings are expected to receive up to, or even over half an inch of freezing rain in the next 36 hours. Half an inch of ice was reported on trees and power lines, which is enough to cause significant damage and power outages.

“Prepare for tree limb breakage and localized power outages in this region, in addition to hazardous or impossible travel conditions,” that National Weather Service in Dallas warned.

Much of central and eastern Arkansas, western Tennessee and northwestern Mississippi continue to be under ice storm warnings as well. In total, nearly 8 million people are included in ice storm warnings.

Overall, more than 30 million people are under some sort of winter weather alert from New Mexico to Virginia.

8:52 p.m. ET, January 31, 2023

School districts in western Tennessee and northwestern Mississippi announce closures for Wednesday

From CNN’s Joe Sutton and Jessica Jordan

A number of school districts across western Tennessee and northwestern Mississippi have announced schools will be closed on Wednesday as the area remains under an ice storm warning.

Here are the districts that have made closure announcements:

  • Memphis Shelby County Schools (Tennessee)
  • Dyer County Schools ( Tennessee)
  • Lauderdale County Schools (Tennessee)
  • McNairy County Schools (Tennessee)
  • DeSoto County Schools (Mississippi)
  • Tate County School District (Mississippi)
  • Tunica County School District (Mississippi)

8:25 p.m. ET, January 31, 2023

More than 1,000 flights have already been canceled for Wednesday

From CNN’s Joe Sutton

A traveler waits at a United Airlines counter at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport on Tuesday in Austin, Texas. Many flights have been delayed and cancelled due to a winter storm.
A traveler waits at a United Airlines counter at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport on Tuesday in Austin, Texas. Many flights have been delayed and cancelled due to a winter storm. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images))

The ongoing ice storm and winter weather that’s impacting at least eight states from Texas to West Virginia will continue to impact travelers at US airports Wednesday.

As of Tuesday evening, FlightAware reports 1,042 flights have been canceled for Wednesday.

Southwest Airlines is experiencing the most cancellations as of now, according to FlightAware.  

The airports that are experiencing the bulk of the cancellations are in Texas: Dallas-Fort Worth International, Dallas Love Field, and Austin-Bergstrom International. 

According to FlightAware, approximately 1,947 flights were canceled within, into or out of the US as of Tuesday night.

7:01 p.m. ET, January 31, 2023

Texas is the only state reporting power outages so far

Texas is the only state reporting outages at this time, as more than 40 million people in the central and southern US experience winter weather.

According to PowerOutage.US, the state has 35,988 customers with no power.

6:42 p.m. ET, January 31, 2023

Austin water company says it's operating normally and is prepared for winter weather

From CNN’s Joe Sutton 

Austin Water is prepared for the ongoing winter weather threat in Texas, an official told CNN Tuesday, saying that systems are operating normally. Austin is currently under a winter storm warning, according to the National Weather Service.

“Austin Water is operating normally and has taken numerous steps to prepare for the winter weather event this week," spokesperson Emlea Chanslor said, adding the agency has completed all of its checks to increase "readiness for freezing temperatures and treacherous road conditions this week."

These measures have been "developed based on lessons learned from recent emergency events,” she said. Austin Water serves more than 1 million customers in the area, according to its website. 

Austin and its water department faced challenges during the deadly winter storm in February 2021 with boil-water notices, broken pipes, and failing systems, CNN previously reported.

At one point during the storm in 2021, the city’s water supply lost 325 million gallons due to burst pipes, according to previous reporting

These are some of the steps the company has taken to increase preparedness, according to Chanslor:

  • Winterization procedures have been completed at facilities.
  • Increased staff availability levels at facilities and contractors on standby to assist, if needed
  • In anticipation of treacherous road conditions, Austin Water has made arrangements to accommodate staff who may have to stay at facilities overnight.
8:04 p.m. ET, January 31, 2023

Austin police have responded to about 215 collision calls so far today

From CNN’s Joe Sutton

The ongoing winter storm that's creating treacherous conditions across the state of Texas has led to at least 215 collision calls in the city of Austin, the police department said in a tweet

Austin is the state capital of Texas and remains under a winter storm warning.

The post has been updated with the latest information from the APD.

6:17 p.m. ET, January 31, 2023

Texas sheriff's deputy in surgery after being pinned by truck that slid off the road

A deputy in Travis County, Texas, which includes the city of Austin, is recovering from surgery after being injured in a weather-related crash.

The Travis County Sheriff's Office said the deputy pulled over and got out of his car to help the driver of an 18-wheeler that went off the road just before 9 a.m. Tuesday morning. While he was helping the driver, another 18-wheeler truck slid and hit the deputy, pinning him under one of the tires, according to a statement from the sheriff's office.

The deputy was in surgery as of Tuesday night and is expected to survive his injuries, the statement said.

“I want to offer my heartfelt gratitude to everyone who responded and assisted this deputy in his time of dire need. Both his biological and TCSO family are relieved and thankful that he’s alive," Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez said in the statement. "Please, please don’t drive on these icy roadways. It’s not worth your life or the lives of the first responders who are literally putting their personal safety on the line.”

Millions of people in several states are under winter weather alerts. Two people were killed in weather-related incidents in Texas as Gov. Greg Abbott urged residents to stay home, saying about 1,600 roads will remain dangerous for the next 24 to 48 hours.

5:44 p.m. ET, January 31, 2023

I-35 from Oklahoma to Texas is extremely hazardous and travel is discouraged, officials say

From CNN’s Joe Sutton

Authorities in Oklahoma are advising motorists not to travel on I-35 due to hazardous conditions from the ongoing winter storm impacting the region. 

“I-35 from Ardmore south to Texas is considered extremely slick and hazardous and travel is discouraged,” the Oklahoma Department of Transportation said in an afternoon update in a news release. 

I-35 runs between Oklahoma City and the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. 

A winter storm warning is in effect for areas of Oklahoma and an ice storm warning is active for parts of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). 

4:23 p.m. ET, January 31, 2023

I-10 shut down in Reeves County, Texas, after multi-vehicle pileup during ice storm

Semi-trucks are seen piled up on a highway in Reeves County, Texas, on January 31.
Semi-trucks are seen piled up on a highway in Reeves County, Texas, on January 31. (Reeves County)

Vehicles were backed up at least 10 miles on I-10 eastbound in Reeves County, Texas, on Tuesday as the area was struck with severe winter weather.

Reeves County Director of Communications Daniel Alvarado went live on Facebook with a warning.

“Drive the conditions, not the speed limit, during these winter weather conditions,” Alvarado said.

The video shows jackknifed semi-trucks on the roadway blocking both lanes of traffic, with multiple vehicles scattered in between. The pile-up spanned from mile markers 185 and 186, with both eastbound lanes closed. The footage shows the ground coated in frost.

Texas Department of Transportation workers pretreated the area Monday in anticipation of heavy freezing fog and wet roads.

In the video, you can hear police sirens as emergency vehicles drive by on the clear side of the interstate.

Alvarado once again encouraged drivers to reduce their speed and avoid travel if possible.