Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas brace, warn of winter storm

Officials in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas were bracing Saturday for a winter storm that forecasters say will bring heavy snow and ice to the region beginning Saturday night and Sunday.

“All of Texas is facing an extremely dangerous winter storm,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said while imploring residents to stay home and off the state’s roadways that he said will likely be ice-covered or snow-packed and impassable.

Abbott, who issued a disaster declaration for all 254 counties in Texas on Friday, said he is asking for a federal declaration as well ahead of the storm.

Subfreezing temperatures are expected in all of Texas, according to the National Weather Service, and snowfall totals of up to 8 inches (20 centimeters) are forecast in the Dallas area. Up to 2 inches (5 centimeters) could fall in the Houston area, a rare sight in the southeastern Texas city where the average daytime highs in February are historically in the 60s.

Abbott, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt and Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson have each activated National Guard units to assist state agencies, such as rescuing stranded drivers.

Stitt has also declared a state of emergency for each of the state’s 77 counties ahead of the storm, which the weather service said could produce snowfall totals approaching 10 inches (25 centimeters) from central through northeastern Oklahoma.

In Arkansas, state House Speaker Matthew Shepherd and Senate President Pro Tem have recessed the Arkansas Legislature until at least Wednesday because of the approaching storm that the weather service said could leave 4 to 5 inches (10 to 13 centimeters) of snow in most of the state.

Temperatures well below freezing and icy roadways are also a concern, particularly in southern Texas, according to Abbott. He pointed out that people in the Houston area may have never experienced driving on ice before.