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Massive winter storm wallops Texas, much of the Midwest

Massive winter storm wallops Texas, much of the Midwest

DALLAS — Tens of thousands of homes and businesses are without power here after a massive winter storm caked North Texas in a thick coat of freezing rain and sleet

Motorists are being encouraged to stay off roads, and ice on power lines forced public transportation officials to suspend the region’s light rail service.

Dallas’ woes are part of a severe cold snap stretching hundreds of miles from Texas to Kentucky.

“Every few years there is a blockbuster ice storm somewhere in the U.S., and these storms are no stranger to the South Central region,” said Jesse Ferrell, weather expert and storm chaser for AccuWeather.com, told Reuters.

As of Friday morning, the National Weather Service had issued ice and winter storm warnings for 10 states. Oklahoma, Arkansas and Tennessee already have declared states of emergency. At least two deaths had been reported on roads in Texas and Missouri, according to Reuters.

Government forecasters warned of possible prolonged power outages across portions of the southern Great Plains toward the Lower Ohio Valley.

The winter weather crippled airports as well, with nearly 1,000 flights reportedly canceled across the nation.

In North Texas where temperatures are not expected to get above freezing until possibly Sunday afternoon, the storm dumped 1 to 3 inches of sleet late Thursday and early Friday. Freezing rain snapped tree branches and crusted power lines in ice.

Customers without power were using smartphone and social media to alert utility companies of outages.

In Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas, reserve power line crews were being called in from other states to try and restore heat to homes.

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