MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The winter storm that caused hundreds of thousands of power outages and contributed to hundreds of traffic accidents from Texas to Maine had moved out to sea Saturday, and while most locations were returning to normal, many people in the Memphis, Tennessee, area were without electricity and could be in the dark for a full week.
On Saturday morning the local utility, Memphis Light, Gas and Water reported more than 90,000 customers, more than 20% of the utility's total, remained without power.
During a late morning news conference from the hard-hit Frayser neighborhood of Memphis, utility President J.T. Young said he hoped that between 25,000 and 30,000 customers could have their power back before the end of the day Saturday.
More than 80 line crews were working to restore power, officials said.
Young said the storm that hit Thursday was probably the third largest outage event in the last 30 years, coming close to, but not eclipsing, a 1994 event. Young said it could be Thursday before all customers have their power back.
“We want everyone to be safe. We want you to be safe and we certainly want our crews to be safe as they do what they do,” he said.
During the news conference, officials said hundreds of trees were down on power lines. In a broadcast on the utility's Facebook page, Young showed an area where a string of 13 power poles were on the ground due to the ice buildup.
The National Weather Service forecasted temperatures to be in the low 30s in Memphis on Saturday.
Meanwhile, in New England, Massachusetts officials were still warning motorists on Saturday to watch for slippery spots on highways where hundreds of accidents, including two fatal crashes that were reported on Friday.
Airlines that had scrubbed about 3,400 flights by midday Friday, were working Saturday to catch up with the backlog.
At least five fatalities are being blamed on the storm.
In addition to the two fatal crashes in Massachusetts, police in the Tulsa, Oklahoma, suburb of Broken Arrow said they were investigating a hit-and-run crash that killed a 12-year-old boy who was struck while sledding.
In western Alabama, a tornado on Thursday killed one and critically injured three others. In Tennessee, a man was killed Thursday when his truck crashed into a tree that had fallen on to a highway.
More than a foot (30 centimeters) of snow fell in parts of Pennsylvania, New York and New England. While the bulk of the storm has moved out, the National Weather Service in Buffalo tweeted Saturday that several inches of lake effect snow was possible in areas southeast of the lakes.
On Friday, Stowe Mountain Rescue, an organization that covers Vermont's tallest mountain, Mount Mansfield, warned that the storm that had dumped more than a foot of snow in Vermont and the area was likely to create dangerous avalanche conditions in the backcountry summit areas of Mount Mansfield, the nearby gullies of Smuggler’s Notch and other alpine zones.
Hunter Tubbs, a meteorologist from the National Weather Service in Maine, said the storm represented a “highly energized system” with waves of low pressure riding along like a train from Texas, where there was snowfall and subfreezing temperatures, to Maine and the Canadian Maritimes.
AP reporter Jonathan Matisse in Nashville, Tennessee, contributed to this report.