Snow, sleet, freezing rain – they’re all making a sweep from the western corner of the United States to the South, propelled by Arctic air.
The winter storm has already brought heavy snowfall to a large swath of the nation extending from Washington State to Michigan and as far south as New Mexico. The storm is now well on its way to Texas and Arkansas and is also heading east into Tennessee.
"This cold air is going to overtake just about the entire country," said Carl Parker, a meteorologist for The Weather Channel. The storm is expected to affect 32 million people for the rest of the week – and the only Americans likely to miss out are residents along the Eastern Seaboard, according to weather predictions.
Going into Thursday evening, Texas and the mid-South are expected to face as much as an inch of ice. The thicker the ice, the more likely it is to weigh down trees and power lines, triggering power outages.
As of Thursday afternoon, the National Weather Service has issued ice storm warnings for parts of far northeast Texas, southern Oklahoma, and western Tennessee.
“This is going to be overwhelming in terms of power outages,” said Jim Cantore, a storm tracker for The Weather Channel, reporting from Dallas. “I wouldn’t be surprised if there are a million-plus (outages).”
Still, the South has had warm weather leading up to the storm, and meteorologists are hopeful those conditions will prevent a hard freeze from setting in.
But bitterly cold temperatures in the Rockies have already prompted safety warnings for residents, and the Arctic air has threatened crops as far south and west as California, The Weather Channel said.
On Wednesday, parts of New Mexico had a frosting of snow, with up to six inches around Santa Fe.
In Pullman, Wash., on Wednesday, the temperature fell below zero for the first time in almost three years, NBC reported. In Oregon, authorities closed part of Interstate 84 on Tuesday because of traffic jams brought on by the snow.
In the Dakotas, the extreme temperatures posed a possible threat to cattle ranchers, according to the Associated Press. Ranchers lost thousands of their stock during a blizzard in early October, but since then, the cattle have had time to grow their winter coats, adding a layer of insulation.
"Cattle are a hardy species," Julie Ellingson, executive vice president of the North Dakota Stockmen's Association, told the AP. "They can endure a lot."
After this storm, which The Weather Channel has named Cleon, another storm system could bring similar weather conditions into parts of the southern Plains, Ohio Valley, mid-Atlantic, and Northeast this weekend into Monday, the channel reported.