Governors in Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Illinois declared states of emergency Tuesday as snow, sleet and freezing rain began to hammer the region from Texas to Ohio. Blizzard warnings were issued for more than half of the 50 states.
Kansas City, St. Louis and Milwaukee are bracing for a foot of snow or more, while Chicago expects its third-worst snow storm in recorded history and urged residents not to travel.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) warned residents that a system “of this size and scope needs to be taken seriously,” according to AFP.
FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate advised that residents in the storm’s path “check on your neighbors, especially the elderly and young children — those who can be most vulnerable during emergencies.”
Meteorologists predicted that the brunt of the storm would bury the Midwest Tuesday afternoon, with intense winds and driving snow creating snow drifts as high as six to eight feet, AFP reports.
Pat Slattery, a spokesman for the National Weather Service, said it is crucial that residents refrain from attempting to travel.
“It doesn’t take a whole lot to make everything slick and if roads aren’t treated they’re going to get icy and then it’s going to snow on top of that, which is going to make matters worse because you can’t see the ice,” he told AFP.
“One of the concerns about the freezing precipitation is if it gets heavy and starts taking down power lines and trees because people have no way to keep their homes warm, and a bitter cold will follow right on the heels of the snow and freezing rain.”
After barreling through the Midwest, the storm is expected to travel into the Northeast.