(WASHINGTON) -- Winter storm watches, warnings or advisories were issued Tuesday and Wednesday in more than 30 states, including Kansas, Missouri, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan and Indiana, according to FEMA and the National Weather Service. Blizzard advisories remain in effect for Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan.
FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate called the storm “historic” Wednesday, telling reporters on a conference call that the blizzard warnings Tuesday stretched from Oklahoma City to Detroit.
With regards to damages, Fugate said they saw the largest power outages in Ohio -- up to “a couple hundred thousand." Overall, “what we’re getting back from all the states and their utilities is that this is what they would have expected…They see this as what you would typically see in heavy snow conditions, not something unexpected,” Fugate said, explaining that they have not deployed a lot of generators because the storm was more snow than ice.
Fugate did not have exact numbers on power outages or accidents and said that states are still collecting information. Fugate stressed that FEMA’s role is supportive. They are aiding the governors and their teams, but most of the impacts are being handled by state and local responders. He also reiterated that it’s important for people to be careful as they start the process of “digging out” and encouraged people to look out for one another.
In addition to the snow, the temperatures continue to be a real concern as cold air surges south. Below-normal temperatures are expected to continue at least through the next two weeks, according to National Weather Service Deputy Director Laura Furgione. To put things in perspective, Cheyenne, Wyo., had a high temperature Tuesday of nine degrees below zero, and temperatures in Denver only got up to negative one degree, marking the first time since 1997 that Denver didn’t see the temperature go over zero.
Ice and snow warnings remain in effect over the Northeast through Thursday as well as winter storm warnings and advisories for the New England area. Wind chill watches have been issued for the Chicago area for Wednesday night, with the region seeing wind gusts up to 70 mph.
As of Wednesday night, FEMA reported that President Obama had declared a state of emergency for Oklahoma, authorizing FEMA and local officials to "identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency."
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