Auto accident lawyers at Pintas & Mullins warn drivers throughout the Midwest that the expected storm is threatening heavy, wet snow and extremely high winds. Officials are urging motorists to stay off the roads, as forecasts are expecting anywhere between six and twelve inches throughout the Plains.
At least 80,000 homes and business are currently without power in Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri, as schools are cancelled and airlines are cancelling thousands of flights. At least 350 flights have been cancelled out of Chicago O'Hare today alone.
The six deaths already reported from the storm occurred in Kansas and Oklahoma. In the first Kansas accident, a 21-year-old man was driving near the Colorado border when his car veered off the interstate due to low visibility, and he suffered fatal injuries. Another Kansas crash killed the driver and injured three passengers when their pickup truck hit an icy patch and rolled off Interstate 70. In northwest Oklahoma, the sudden, heavy snowfall caused the roof of a home to collapse, killing one person inside.
The storm is not contained to the Midwest, however. Northern New England is expected to see effects of the storm on Wednesday, and on Monday, whiteout conditions caused widespread road closures in Texas. Officials at the Texas Department of Transportation said that all roads in the Texas Panhandle were completely impassible because of drifting snow. Interstate 40 going between Texas and Oklahoma was also closed on Monday, as the state line was dumped with about 20 inches of snow.
A weather station in Texas reported that wind gusts ranged between 75 and 85 miles per hour, posing significant risk to pedestrians, drivers, and commuters of all types. Many motorists are getting stuck on roadways, having to abandon their cars or have them towed.
This is already the second major winter storm of 2013, the first caused more than 200 cars to be towed in Kansas City alone. City officials are expecting today's storm to force even more motorists from their cars. Having to abandon cars on roadways is extraordinarily dangerous, both to the drivers and passengers and to the service works that are called to assist them.
Kansas City Mayor, Sly James, said that city officials will not hesitate to tow abandoned cars in efforts to protect public safety and property. To date, the snow removal work has cost the city about $2 million, and by 8:30 AM on Tuesday, more than 60,000 people were without power.
Due to the strong winds and heavy snow, tree branches are contributing to much of the property damage and power outages. Residents are urged to keep their vehicles and other valuables inside garages and sheds, so they are not crushed by falling objects. Mayor James also recommends residents keep alternate heating sources in mind and monitor utilities closely.
Forecasters are expecting the storm to reach peak intensity in Chicago just in time for rush hour. This poses an immense risk to commuters, who will have to navigate through decreased visibility and treacherous roadway conditions. The National Weather Service is calling the storm a crippling and historic blizzard. In northwest Oklahoma, firefighters were not able to get to a home that was on fire because of four-foot snow drifts on the roads. The fire truck became stuck in the drifts, and when a snowplow came to dig them out, the plow became stuck too. It is reportedly the highest accumulation of snow in the area since 1971. In Amarillo, Texas, today was the second highest daily snowfall ever recorded.
As if the snow, sleet, rain and wind weren't enough, the National Weather Service recently issued a tornado watch across central Florida and into the east coast of South Carolina as well. Additionally, residents in the Gulf Coast of Alabama should expect heavy rains and winds as fast as 30 miles per hour.
Auto accident lawyers at Pintas & Mullins urge everyone to stay inside tonight, as visibility will be near zero on most Midwestern roads. Take the night off and keep yourself and your loved ones safe.