- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 16, 2021

The severe winter weather now sweeping through the U.S. is “significantly dangerous,” said Jonathan Porter, chief meteorologist for AccuWeather.

“To understand the magnitude of this particular coast-to-coast storm, it is important to understand the full impacts of how this massive storm is being experienced across the country. The sheer number of people affected will put an additional strain on an already overburdened system that should be of grave concern to our elected officials, including first responders and public safety officials,” Mr. Porter told The Washington Times.

“Services from emergency management, transportation, health, housing, energy, vaccine administration and the economy will be overall disrupted due to major snow, ice storms and extreme cold temperatures in what has been the most active winter weather pattern in almost 30 years. Nearly every state in the contiguous U.S. has been or will be impacted in a significant manner — threatening lives and impairing commerce,” he said.

Mr. Porter cited record-breaking snowfall in Texas, freezing rain as far south as the Mexican border and the threat of another surge of Arctic air in the very near future.

“Millions of people are without power statewide as a result of the snow and ice as well as huge energy spikes in demand due to the extreme cold that utility companies may be strained to adequately provide,” Mr. Porter said, voicing “serious and immediate concerns” for citizens, emergency shelters and heating centers alike to stave off the cold.

Unwanted side effects that loom in the immediate future could include an increase in the price of home heating oil and gasoline if refineries become compromised by the intense cold.

“Additionally, without power, many water pipes may break in homes and businesses, which could result in further damage and a huge number of insurance claims. Damage may occur to orange and grapefruit crops in the Rio Grande Valley, because it is highly unusual for the groves to experience such frigid air,” Mr. Porter said.

He also has an immediate prediction.

“As the moisture-laden storm moves northeast through Tuesday, the significant ice storm from today across Louisiana, Mississippi and northwest Alabama will expand into Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, eastern Pennsylvania, the northwest suburbs of New York City and interior southern New England,” Mr. Porter noted.

“Tens of millions of additional residents will face the risk of power outages — which in some cases could take many days to restore in the hardest-hit places. Ice storms are bad enough, but ice storms followed by dangerously cold temperatures — makes the combination a potentially life-threatening crisis,” he said.

“This is a significantly dangerous storm, and I wanted to provide a comprehensive response to understand the full weight of what is at stake,” Mr. Porter added.

• Jennifer Harper can be reached at jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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