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Winter storm brings icy conditions to south-central US

Several states are under a winter weather advisory as a cold front moves in with freezing rain and ice that could cripple roadways.

(CN) — Winter weather has begun to settle in on large parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Kentucky as southerners prepare for days of potentially icy conditions.

Beginning on Sunday afternoon and progressing into the evening, temperatures began to drop across parts of the south-central United States. As of Monday, the National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning stretching from Central Texas, including Austin and San Antonio, through the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex and into Arkansas. 

The warning is expected to remain in place until the early morning hours of Wednesday. Forecasters have advised people to use caution when getting out on the roads. Ice, as thick as a tenth of an inch, has the potential to form throughout the Lone Star State. 

The winter storm has led to the delay of over 2,000 flights and more than 700 cancellation. In the center of the storm sits two international airports in Texas, Dallas Love Field and the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, where a major of the cancellations occurred. American Airlines, which is headquartered in Fort Worth, has waived all fees for travelers needing to change their flights.    

More threatening conditions are targeting Little Rock, Arkansas, and Memphis, Tennessee, in the form of an ice storm warning, which will remain in effect until noon on Wednesday. The area could see up to a half inch of ice. 

Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders has called up the state National Guard's winter weather support team to assist police until road conditions improve. The Republican governor is the first and only to call upon guardsmen in response to the winter storm.

In Oklahoma, some schools moved to online learning. Other schools in the state have chosen to remain open but have canceled all after-school activities. School districts throughout the state of Texas have followed suit.  

As the week progresses, winter weather conditions are expected to persist, including the possibility of sleet and freezing rain. Conditions are expected to improve by Thursday with much of the precipitation dissipating from the forecast. Temperatures will increase across the region as the weekend nears. By next week much of Texas will be back to its usually balmy weather with highs in the 60s. 

In such icy conditions, so-called black ice poses a grave danger for anyone traveling on roadways. Black ice occurs when a thin layer of ice forms on asphalt, appearing as though the road is free of ice. This is a key reason why many experts advise against driving in icy conditions and say to only go out when necessary. 

According to the Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, “24% of weather-related vehicle crashes occur on snowy, slushy or icy pavement." Those accidents result in over 100,000 injuries and over 1,000 fatalities annually.

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