Disaster Discourse: The Hagerty Blog

Severe Weather Brings Winter Storms, Strong Winds, and Wildfires to Various Parts of the United States


Over the past week, the United States (US) has experienced severe weather from coast to coast.


On Monday, January 3, a winter storm produced strong winds and significant snowfall across large portions of the US Southeast and mid-Atlantic. The National Weather Service (NWS) reported Virginia experienced over 14 inches of snow, while Maryland saw 13 inches. Washington, DC additionally experienced 8.5 inches of snow, while North Carolina saw 11 inches. Alabama and Florida also experienced snowfall. The storm has created critical conditions across the East Coast, resulting in casualties for at least five people. Power outages have spread across the coast, with PowerOutage.US reporting Virginia is currently experiencing 260,372 outages as of Tuesday morning.

Reuters also noted that the severe weather forced federal government offices to close in Washington, D.C., with President Joe Biden and his staff forced to remain on Air Force One for 30 minutes as plows cleared the runway. Schools throughout the area were also closed or delayed, and public transportation around the nation’s capital was required to operate on a reduced schedule. 

On Monday evening, several accidents occurred on a 50-mile stretch of Interstate 95 south of Washington, DC. As a result, The New York Times noted numerous motorists were stranded on the interstate overnight. Virginia Governor Ralph Northam issued a statement, declaring the state was connecting the stranded drivers with support and working with localities to open warming shelters. 

National Weather Service: Twitter


In the western part of the country, the Marshall Fire in Boulder County, Colorado erupted on the morning of Thursday, December 30, where dry conditions and winds in excess of 100 miles per hour (mph) facilitated the fire’s spread. According to The Weather Channel, over 30,000 residents in southern Boulder and Broomfield counties were forced to evacuate and more than 1,000 homes were destroyed in the fire. The Marshall Fire spread over 9 square miles in a densely developed, primarily suburban area, including the Colorado City of Louisville and town of Superior. Colorado Governor Jared Polis gave a news briefing on Friday, December 31, stating that President Biden approved a major disaster declaration for the areas destroyed by the fire and paving the way for federal disaster aid. The Weather Channel noted that while the fire is still burning, officials said it is not expected to grow any larger due to calmer winds and snow moving into the region.

Officials with the Boulder County Office of Emergency Management held a briefing on Monday, January 3, to update citizens on the response to the Marshall fire. Two individuals are currently missing as a result of the wildfire. However, officials were able to announce a third missing person from Louisville was located and is “alive and well.” The origin of the fire is still unknown, and Governor Polis added that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is actively investigating the cause of the fire. Officials have set up a Disaster Assistance Center for community members who have been impacted in various ways by the Marshal Fire.

Planning an evacuation route in case of wildfire: Ready.gov

Currently, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Storm Prediction Center forecasts Critical Fire Weather for East-Central New Mexico, parts of the South Plains as well as portions of the Texas Panhandle. Wildfires often strike communities with little notice, which is why the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) urges individuals to plan ahead. This includes learning and practicing your household’s evacuation routes, as well as preparing an emergency supply kit. To stay informed about wildfire events, the (NOAA) National Weather Services (NWS) provides the latest alerts in your area in the form of “Red Flag Warnings,” which indicate when critical fire weather conditions are occurring or will occur shortly. Another way to stay updated is taking advantage of real-time alerts available via the FEMA Mobile App and other local and national communication systems. FEMA encourages individuals to adhere to the guidance of local authorities in order to stay safe during wildfire events impacting their community.

The Hagerty Blog Team will continue providing information and updates on current events and disasters impacting the nation. Visit Disaster Discourse for the latest information.