A wintry storm caked the US' center with a thick layer of ice, blacking out more than 600,000 homes and businesses, and more icy weather was on the way. At least 18 deaths in Oklahoma and Missouri were blamed on the conditions, with 15 of them killed on slick highways.
A state of emergency was declared for all of Oklahoma, where the sound of branches snapping under the weight of the ice echoed through Oklahoma City.
"You can hear them falling everywhere," Lonnie Compton said on Monday as he shoveled ice off his driveway.
The National Weather Service posted ice and winter storm warnings yesterday for parts of Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and Illinois. Missouri declared an emergency on Sunday and put the National Guard on alert.
Oklahoma utilities said half a million customers were blacked out as power lines snapped under the weight of ice and falling tree branches, the biggest power outage in state history, and utilities in Missouri said more than 100,000 homes and business had no power there.
"If you do the math, probably one out of three Oklahomans has no electricity at this point," said Gil Broyles, a spokesman for Oklahoma Gas & Electric, the state's largest utility.
Roughly 11,000 customers were blacked out in southern Illinois and more than 5,000 had no electric heat or lights in Kansas, where Governor Kathleen Sebelius declared a statewide state of emergency.
At O'Hare International Airport, about 200 flights were canceled on Monday, with delays of about 45 minutes, said Chicago Department of Aviation spokeswoman Karen Pride. Fewer than a dozen flights were canceled at Midway Airport, and a handful of flights were delayed about an hour, she said.
Ice was as much as 2.5cm thick on tree limbs and power lines in parts of the region.
Schools across Oklahoma were closed and some hospitals were relying on backup power generators. The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers sent 50 generators and three truckloads of bottled water from Texas to distribute to blacked-out areas of Oklahoma.
Tulsa International Airport had no power for about 10 hours and halted flight operations for the day, and most morning flights at Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City were canceled because of icy runways.
PASTA PUNCHLINE: Billy McLean’s spoof poking fun at misinformation on the coronavirus was meant for friends, but is being eaten up by frazzled Britons It started off as an ad-libbed joke for some friends in a soccer banter group and ended up being heard by vast numbers of Britons within hours. However, the man responsible for a joke WhatsApp audio clip that claimed the UK Ministry of Defence was about to requisition Wembley Stadium to cook the world’s biggest lasagna has said his viral success also shows the risks of believing everything that gets sent to you on the messaging service. Billy McLean, a 29-year-old Londoner who works in software sales, came forward to the Guardian to identify himself as the creator of the much-shared clip
‘AN HONORABLE TASK’: The brigade to Italy is the sixth contingent of doctors the nation has sent abroad to aid governments contending with the COVID-19 pandemic Cuba has dispatched doctors and nurses to Italy for the first time this weekend to help fight COVID-19 at the request of the worst-affected region Lombardy, it said. The Caribbean nation has sent its “armies of white robes” to disaster sites around the world largely in poor countries since its 1959 revolution, with doctors on the front lines in the fight against cholera in Haiti and against ebola in West Africa in the 2010s. Yet with the 52-strong brigade, this is the first time Cuba has sent an emergency contingent to Italy, one of the world’s richest countries, demonstrating the reach of
EASING RESTRICTIONS: After there were no new locally transmitted cases for three consecutive days, officials have started to relax limitations on freedom of movement China on Friday reported a record rise in imported COVID-19 cases as expatriates returned home from the US and Europe, sparking fears of a second wave of infections just as the country recovers from the initial outbreak. All 41 of the new confirmed cases in China were imported from abroad, the Chinese National Health Commission said yesterday, bringing the total number of such cases to 269. Beijing and Shanghai were the main entry points for the returnees, many of whom are students who were studying abroad, official reports said. They have come back after many campuses in the US and Europe shut
There are growing concerns for the health of Rokia Traore, a Malian singer who has been on hunger strike at the Fleury-Merogis Prison near Paris since she was arrested on March 10 on allegations of kidnapping her daughter in a child custody dispute. “I am very worried,” said Kenneth Feliho, her lawyer. “She is only drinking. She has not been eating for over a week and her immune system is weak.” Among those calling for the musician’ release are African stars including Salif Keita, Youssou N’Dour and Angelique Kidjo. Damon Albarn, who performed with her in the group Africa Express, wrote: “We demand,