Enjoy our faster App experience

Snow, ice blasts through US Southeast with powerful winter storm

Flights cancelled, tens of thousands of customers were without power and patrols were reporting hundreds of vehicle accidents



Families take advantage of a winter storm to sled at Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. — AFP
Families take advantage of a winter storm to sled at Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. — AFP

By AP

Published: Mon 17 Jan 2022, 3:25 AM

A dangerous winter storm combining high winds and ice swept through parts of the US Southeast on Sunday, knocking out power, felling trees and fences and coating roads with a treacherous, frigid glaze.

Tens of thousands of customers were without power in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida. Highway patrols were reporting hundreds of vehicle accidents, and a tornado ripped through a trailer park in Florida. More than 1,200 Sunday flights at Charlotte Douglas International were cancelled — more than 90 per cent of the airport’s Sunday schedule, according to the flight tracking service flightaware.com.

ALSO READ:

Winter Storm Izzy dumped as much as 10 inches of snow in some areas of western North Carolina as the system moved across the southeastern US, said Brian Hurley, a meteorologist with the Weather Prediction Centre in College Park, Maryland.

First Sgt. Christopher Knox, a spokesman for the North Carolina Highway Patrol, said that by midafternoon, the agency had responded to 300 car crashes and nearly 800 calls for service. Two people died on Sunday when their car drove off the road and into trees in a median east of Raleigh. The driver and passenger, both 41-year-old South Carolina residents, were pronounced dead at the scene of the single-vehicle crash. Knox said investigators believe the car was driving too fast for the conditions, described as mixed winter precipitation.

Bridget Step stops for a photo of the snow while watching the snow fall in Atlanta as a winter storm rolls into the area. — AP
Bridget Step stops for a photo of the snow while watching the snow fall in Atlanta as a winter storm rolls into the area. — AP

Meanwhile, Transportation Secretary J. Eric Boyette said many roads in the central and western part of the state were covered with ice. He said the eastern part of the state was being hit with high winds and rain.

Kristen Baker Morrow’s 6-year-old son made snow angels after their home in Crouse, North Carolina, got four inches of snow on Sunday morning, but she said they couldn’t stay outside long because of the uncomfortable wind chill.

“It took 30 to 45 minutes to get everything on for about 10 minutes in the snow, but it was definitely worth it for him, to get our pictures and make some memories,” said Morrow, a 35-year-old registered nurse.

More than 260,000 customers were without power by midafternoon on Sunday, according to poweroutage.us. Especially hard hit was North Carolina, with 90,000 outages. The remaining outages were in Georgia, South Carolina and Florida.

People ride bicycles and run along Main St in Greenville, South Carolina. — AFP
People ride bicycles and run along Main St in Greenville, South Carolina. — AFP

The National Weather Service confirmed that a tornado with 190kmph struck southwest Florida. The weather service said the tornado was on the ground for almost 3 kilometres with a maximum path width of 115 metres. Thirty mobile homes were destroyed and 51 had major damage. Three minor injuries were reported.

Edward Murray, 81, told the Naples Daily News in southwest Florida that he was inside his mobile home when a tornado picked it up and tossed it on top of his neighbour’s home.

“That’s my house that’s turned upside down,” he told the newspaper. “The tornado took me off my feet, blew me toward the east wall and buried me under the sink, refrigerator, kitchen chairs and everything else.”

Murray and his daughter, Cokie, escaped unharmed, crawling from the wreckage.

“I was so happy when I saw the sky,” Murray told the newspaper. “I said to the devil, ‘It’s not going to be today’.”

Virginia State Police said traffic came to a standstill on Sunday afternoon on Interstate 81 in Roanoke County after a tractor-trailer jackknifed and the cab of the truck disconnected from the trailer in the northbound lanes. Two additional accidents occurred in the traffic backup, one with minor injuries. The Virginia Department of Transportation said a detour was being set up. “Please stay off the roads if possible. Begging again! Hazardous conditions,” read a tweet from VDOT’s Salem office.

From midnight to 12.45pm, Virginia state troopers responded to 142 traffic crashes and 162 disabled vehicles. No traffic fatalities were reported.

Plows work on Interstate 581 at the Liberty Road NW overpass during the snow storm in Roanoke, Va. — AP
Plows work on Interstate 581 at the Liberty Road NW overpass during the snow storm in Roanoke, Va. — AP

The West Virginia Department of Homeland Security tweeted photos of snow-covered roads in the southern part of the state and advised residents to “keep calm and hunker down.” The agency says the storm is moving north and most areas of the state are expected to have accumulations of at least 10cm with up to 30cm possible in the mountains.

In Tennessee, there were multiple reports of abandoned and wrecked cars on snow-covered roads.

The storm system could cause hazardous driving conditions over a large portion of the eastern US through Monday as the wet roadways refreeze in southern states and the storm turns and moves northward through the Mid-Atlantic states and New England.

While not a record-breaking storm in terms of snowfall, the large system could impact a dozen or more states.

A driver navigates an icy road as a winter storm moves through the area in Orange County near Hillsborough, N.C. — AP
A driver navigates an icy road as a winter storm moves through the area in Orange County near Hillsborough, N.C. — AP

“It’s a very expansive storm,” Hurley said. “A lot of real estate is going to get four to eight inches of snow and a lot more are also going to get to get some of that ice accumulation.”

New York City was expected to be spared from most, if not all, of the snowfall, but Long Island and Connecticut coastal areas were expecting gale conditions. Upstate New York was projected to get hit with up to a foot of snow to go along with high winds.

Frigid temperatures lingered across New England on Sunday, with wind chills in northern Vermont reported at -33 Celsius.


More news from World