By Lisa Maria Garza
DALLAS (Reuters) – An ice storm battered parts of Texas on Monday, knocking out power to thousands of homes, causing hundreds of traffic accidents and prompting more than 1,500 flight cancellations.
The storm, which packed high winds and dumped freezing rain, covered highways with sheets of ice, and authorities advised commuters to stay off the roads. The cold was expected to last another day, keeping roads slick.
A large section of the U.S. South from Arkansas to North Carolina was expected to experience freezing temperatures and winter storms on Monday, the National Weather Service said.
Snow and freezing rain fell in parts of New Mexico, and Colorado, Utah and northern Arizona were also under winter storm warnings, the weather service said.
At Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, one of the busiest in the United States and a hub for American Airlines, nearly 1,100 flights were canceled as of 3 p.m. CST (2100 GMT), according to tracking service FlightAware.com. At Love Field in Dallas, a major airport for Southwest Airlines, more than 100 flights were canceled, it said.
In Tennessee, at least 22 people have been killed in the past few days because of icy winter conditions, the state’s Emergency Management Agency said.
Elevenpeople have died in Kentucky from the snow and ice that began pummeling the state on Feb. 16, officials said.
Texas schools were closed on Monday around Dallas and Fort Worth, one of the largest U.S. metropolitan areas, while traffic on highways was sparse. Iced-over trees knocked down power lines and left thousands without electricity, officials said. Police in Texas reported hundreds of car accidents.
BreeAnna Moore, 27, skipped driving to work in Fort Worth after watching live traffic camera footage.
“I really can’t afford to miss a day, but then again I don’t think it’s worth my life or my car trying to make it in,” she said.
The trial of the man accused of killing Chris Kyle, the former U.S. Navy SEAL who was the subject of the movie “American Sniper,” was called off on Monday because of ice that coated the Texas city of Stephenville, southwest of Fort Worth.
Salt trucks were deployed in Oklahoma, where about an inch of ice and snow coated roads.
(Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Additional reporting by Tim Ghianni in Nashville, Heide Brandes in Oklahoma City, Steve Barnes in Little Rock and Lisa Bose McDermott in Texarkana, Arkansas; Editing by Susan Heavey, Andrew Hay and Peter Cooney)