US prepares for dangerous winter storm conditions

A severe winter storm brought heavy snow to parts of the Southeast on Sunday and is expected to leave around 1 foot of snow in parts of the Northeast, knocking out power to tens of thousands of customers as dangerous highways covered in ice in the Carolinas.

In the south, where some governors declared states of emergency on Friday, areas such as central Mississippi and central North Carolina had already received more than 9 inches of snowfall, while parts of Tennessee and of Alabama received a mix of snow and freezing rain, the National Weather Service said.

“This storm is going to be quite significant in terms of travel impacts, outages and things of that nature,” said Rich Otto, meteorologist with the weather service.

In Georgia, about 75,000 customers were without power Sunday afternoon, according to PowerOutage.us, which aggregates data from utilities across the United States. South Carolina had nearly 99,000 customers without power and North Carolina about 48,000.

More than a quarter inch of ice is expected to accumulate Sunday in the Piedmont regions of North and South Carolina.

Forecasters said the storm system could bring more than 1 foot of snow to some areas, including parts of Appalachia and upstate New York. Parts of the upper Midwest and northwestern Pennsylvania could receive up to 2 feet of snow, Otto said.

Governor Roy Cooper of North Carolina warned residents at a press conference on Sunday to stay off the roads as parts of the state had received up to 1 foot of snow.

“For today, the best way to avoid a car accident or get stuck is to stay put,” he said.

As of Sunday morning, there were already 200 accident reports from the storm, said Col. Freddy Johnson Jr., commander of the State Highway Patrol.

“Travel is treacherous in much of our state,” Johnson said.

The North Carolina Office of Emergency Management said on Twitter that “many North Carolina residents could be without power in extremely low temperatures” on Sunday. Cooper said several counties are opening warm shelters for them.

As the storm moves northeast on Sunday afternoon, it will remain inland, meaning cities closer to the coast from Washington to Boston will receive mostly heavy rain, it said. Otto.

Significant flooding was possible in parts of eastern Long Island, New York, and the New England coast Sunday evening and Monday morning, he said.

Ben Gelber, meteorologist with WCMH-TV in Columbus, Ohio, said Saturday that “more people will be affected by this storm than any winter storm we’ve had this season.”

Elsewhere in the south, meteorologists say northeast Georgia and the Carolinas are expected to bear the brunt of freezing precipitation on Sunday.

In Georgia, the Department of Public Safety reported several examples of drivers losing control on icy roads, and officials said road conditions would worsen during the day as strong gusts of wind hit the state, hampering freeway clearance efforts.

Crews from South Carolina and Mississippi were also working Sunday morning to clear highways. Videos shared by state transportation departments showed highways white with snow and almost completely clear of vehicles.

On Friday, Governor Ralph S. Northam of Virginia and Governor Brian Kemp of Georgia joined Cooper in declaring a state of emergency.

“This upcoming weather system will likely include additional downed trees, more power outages and significant impacts on travel conditions,” Northam said in his statement, released on his last full day in office.

Virginia transportation officials were caught off guard earlier this month when a storm stranded hundreds of drivers on Interstate 95 south of Washington.

Northam warned the storm could produce wind gusts of up to 70 mph along the coast.

Temperatures fell well below zero on Saturday across New England and parts of New York.

Southwest Airlines has warned travelers passing through airports in the South that flights could be delayed, diverted or canceled. American Airlines and Delta Air Lines made similar weather-related announcements.

As of Sunday morning, more than 1,000 flights had been canceled in affected states, according to FlightAware.com, which tracks delays and cancellations across the country.

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