Gov. Andy Beshear said Saturday that at least five Kentuckians had died as a result of the storm after the state had wind gusts of more than 70 miles per hour and flash flooding. In Alabama, three people were killed by falling trees, while storm-related deaths were also reported in Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee, according to the Associated Press.
Officials are already stressing patience amid the power outages. As of Saturday around noon, more than 300,000 customers remained without power in Kentucky and Michigan, while tens of thousands more also contended with blackouts in Tennessee, Ohio, and West Virginia, according to PowerOutage.us.
Both Beshear and Louisville mayor Craig Greenberg declared states of emergency. Edward J. Meiman, executive director of Louisville’s emergency services, said first responders were hit by a “huge” surge in calls for help on Friday, including several water rescues and fires caused by the storm.
The governor urged patience in restoring service, saying some areas could be days without power.
“This is very significant widespread damage throughout Kentucky,” Beshear said during a news conference. “When it comes to power, this is going to be a multiday event.”
As it moves east, the storm could drop 8 inches of snow across some parts of the Northeast and northern New England through Saturday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service, which also warned of flooding along the coast. That heavy snowfall is more likely in Maine and parts of New Hampshire, while the Boston area and further south face rain and a wintry mix.
More than 10 inches of snow fell across parts of the Detroit area, where service providers DTE and Consumers Energy had already faced criticism over power outages in February, according to the Detroit Free Press. More than 3,000 workers for DTE are working on emergency repairs, the company said on its website.
The Detroit Metropolitan Airport closed on Friday, with local media reporting that as many as 300 flights had been canceled. The airport said on Twitter around midnight Friday that it had resumed operations.
Tornado watches were issued in regions spanning from eastern Kentucky to northern Georgia, and the Weather Service received more than 125 reports of damaging winds in that region. That comes amid record winter tornado activity over the past three months in the Deep South and the central U.S., exacerbated by the unusually warm winter temperatures.
The storm in the Northeast will be followed by an “unreasonably warm” period through Monday for early March, according to the National Weather Service. The National Weather Service predicted “more tranquil” weather over the weekend for the Detroit area as well.