Ice from ½ to 1 inch thick is expected to fall on portions of the United States from Texas to the Ohio Valley and further east as winter storm Cleon marches across the country. Cleon, the fourth named storm of the 2013-14 winter season, has already caused traffic accidents, school closings, horrible driving conditions and numerous flight cancellations in several western and southwestern states when it took shape on Thursday. This large, powerful winter storm is promising more of the same for millions of Americans over this weekend just when many people had holiday shopping trips planned.
Cleon took shape late Thursday in Texas and was born from a perfect combination of conditions: A low level, mass of frigid air moving south and east met a higher level of warm air that moved in off the Gulf. This syncing of the two weather conditions results in precipitation in one form or another. When the precipitation falls as rain but meets a cold layer of air, it turns to sleet. Then, when it hits the ground, it turns into ice. The National Weather Service warned early Friday that Americans in many parts of the country can expect travel problems over the next few days due to ice-covered, very treacherous roads.
Sleet and ice is bad enough but with this big weather system also comes some very frigid temperatures. Temps in the mid section of the country and western US will be from 10 to 30 degrees below normal for several days. Some areas in the northern Plains states will not see temperatures rise above the zero mark this weekend and into early next week.
Numerous bridges and overpasses had iced over early Friday morning in the Dallas-Forth Worth area. Forecasters there predicted up to ½ inch of ice will be on the ground by lunchtime. Portions of Dallas have already experienced power outages as of late Thursday. Several school districts in the Dallas area called off classes for Friday and have canceled events scheduled for Saturday. The governor of Texas issued an emergency proclamation Thursday night which will allow military personnel along with vehicles in Sherman and Wichita Falls to assist and rescue stranded motorists. Over 250,000 Oncor Energy customers were left in the dark Thursday night in Texas stretching from the northwestern part of the state south to the city of Austin.