Snow storm blankets parts of North Carolina, Virginia

DURHAM, N.C — A winter storm blanketed parts of North Carolina and Virginia with snow early today as its slow march across the Southeast left grocery store shelves empty and roads icy and impassible.

The National Weather Service said North Carolina cities including Winston-Salem, Greensboro and Roxboro had received six inches or more of snow overnight, while sleet and ice were making roads treacherous in Raleigh and areas southeast. Next on the storm’s path was southeast Virginia, where the weather service said more than an inch had already accumulated. Some places could get a foot of snow.

Much of North Carolina is under a winter storm warning until 7 p.m. today. Duke Energy reported more than 14,000 outages in the Carolinas, with many in the Charlotte area.

“Whenever snow comes people get really excited. I’m a little excited,” said Donovan Cheatham, who studies music at North Carolina Central University and plays in jazz bands. He and roommate Collin Williams said if they get snowed in, they may miss a paying gig but will jam anyway — Collins on alto saxophone and Cheatham on drums.

“Practice. We’ll get a lot of practice in,” Williams said.

Lauren Rathbone, manager of Public Hardware in Durham, North Carolina, said the store sold out of more than 100 sleds Friday, along with bags and bags of ice melt to treat driveways and walks.

“At the beginning, it’s ice melt and sleds. Closer to it when people start realizing it’s going to be super cold, they’ll start working on kerosene heaters, kerosene wicks ... Probably today somebody’s going to be out of electricity, and they’ll start working on lamps,” she quipped.

A blizzard warning for southeast Virginia accompanied forecasts of up to a foot of snow there. Winds in the warning area, which includes Norfolk and Virginia Beach, could reach 30 mph with gusts up to 45 mph.

One fatality — a man whose pickup truck went off a snow-slickened Kentucky road Thursday — has been reported. But the winter road mess caused hundreds of fender benders and other non-injury crashes, some involving school buses, on Nashville, Tennessee, roads by Friday.

Nashville’s city school district ordered classes to start as scheduled Friday morning but had to hastily announce early dismissals as police reports of non-injury crashes multiplied. All students made it safely home.

“We apologize,” Nashville Schools Chief Operating Officer Chris Henson said. “We realize that it’s been very frustrating for everyone.”

Ice forming Friday evening near sunset made driving dangerous on some Mississippi highways. State transportation officials reported ice on roads and bridges in more than half of the state’s counties.

And Alabama was under a winter storm warning until early today from the wintry mix. By midday, the storm was expected to clear out, but ice would likely remain as highs would only get into the 30s. By Tuesday, temperatures are expected to reach almost balmy 50s and 60s.

In Georgia, 2 to 4 inches of snow could cover northern parts of the state by early today, forecasters said. Though rain and freezing rain fell at times in Atlanta, its workers, schools and companies dismissed early Friday, avoiding the epic snowstorm traffic jam of January 2014 that stranded motorists in cars on interstates. Some took to sledding in snow-coated northern Atlanta suburbs and in Tennessee.

The storm also upended plans for inaugural celebrations for new North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, who was supposed to have an outdoor inaugural ceremony today attended by thousands. He instead rushed through a 20-minute indoor oath-taking Friday before settling into his first assignment — storm preparedness.

“Consider yourselves the chosen few,” Cooper jokingly told those able to attend his swearing-in Friday. Instead of today’s daylong ceremonies and parade, he planned to open with a morning storm briefing before addressing the state via television.

Winter blast hits eastern US, triggers hundreds of crashes in North Carolina

The storm hit North Carolina especially hard.At least 260 crashes or other traffic incidents were reported between midnight and 6 a.m. as the rough weather blew in, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said. Investigators told reporters they haven't confirmed any weather-related deaths.

Cooper says that even after the snow stops later in the day, bitter cold will blow in and refreeze any melted slush on roads.

Raleigh-Durham International Airport staff worked through the night to clear runways. Officials there said most airlines had canceled flights through mid-morning.

The Charlotte airport announced it would open with limited operations after de-icing 70 planes on Friday and plowing of the airfield. It advised travelers to check their carrier for cancellations.

Most flights have been canceled at the airport in Norfolk, Va.
The National Weather Service says Greensboro, Burlington and Roxboro have had more than 8 inches of snow. Parts of South Carolina got more than 6 inches, Fox Carolina reported.

Duke Energy reported about 14,000 outages in the Carolinas. That included about 3,000 in the county surrounding Charlotte and more than 4,000 in neighboring Union County.

The Virginia National Guard said about 200 members were staged at firehouses around southeast Virginia with Humvees and trucks to help police and firefighters.

Cooper was supposed to have been sworn in Saturday at an outdoor ceremony attended by thousands. He instead rushed through a 20-minute indoor oath-taking Friday.

"Consider yourselves the chosen few," Cooper jokingly told family, friends and well-wishers able to attend his swearing-in.

Winter storm moves up East Coast

The winter storm that socked the Southeast has moved up the East Coast. The National Weather Service predicts the storm could drop a foot of snow in Boston, 2 feet on the Massachusetts coast, 7 inches in New York and 5 inches in Philadelphia by Sunday morning.

The Cape Cod area of Massachusetts looked like it would receive the heaviest blow. The weather service issued a blizzard warning for that area until 3 a.m. ET Sunday, saying "near-whiteout" conditions were possible. Winds could hit 45 mph, the weather service said.

The town of Barnstable, on the Cape, said 1-3 inches of snow could fall per hour and urged residents not to park on the main street because of snow plows.

Going back to work on Monday could be treacherous. Temperatures won't rise above freezing until Tuesday, the weather service said.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh urged the city's citizens to look out for each other and help keep the streets cleared.
"If we can all work together to remove the snow rather than push it around, we'll be in good shape for Monday morning," he told CNN affiliate WBZ.

Travel problems
Thousands of travelers had flights canceled up and down the East Coast because of the winter weather and the shooting at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida.

Alexia Marramarco a French foreign exchange student on her way back to Georgia State University in Atlanta, was one of them.

First, her flight Friday from Paris to Fort Lauderdale was diverted to Miami because of the shooting. Then, after being bused to Fort Lauderdale, Marramarco learned her connecting flight to Atlanta was canceled because of weather.
"I haven't slept," she said Saturday.

Asked if she thought she'd get back to campus by Saturday night, she said, "Je ne sais pas." ("I don't know.")
The Fort Lauderdale airport closed one of its four terminals after the shooting but reopened it for flights on Saturday afternoon.

FlightAware, an airline tracking website, listed more than 2,100 cancellations within, into or out of the United States by 6 p.m. ET Saturday. Airports in Boston and Philadelphia urged travelers to check with their carriers about their flight status.

Drivers also ran into problems.

A pileup involving as many as 20 vehicles shut down a section of Interstate 91 near Middletown, Connecticut, on Saturday afternoon, WBZ reported. No serious injuries were reported.

In Virginia, one highway fatality occurred Saturday afternoon when an SUV ran off a road in Greene County, the Virginia State Police said. State police responded to 527 traffic crashes on Saturday.

North Carolina State Highway Patrol troopers have responded to nearly 1,500 calls for service and more than 700 vehicle collisions since midnight.

North Carolina
North Carolina took a heavy punch Friday night, with CNN affiliate WRAL reporting that Raleigh saw about 2 inches of snow but surrounding areas, including Orange and Durham counties, got 6 inches or more.

Though snow tapered off Saturday, driving conditions will remain hazardous because of low temperatures and ice on the highways.

"Throughout Monday the weather is going to be pretty cold and whatever is on the road will still be there," Gov. Roy Cooper said. He said that, so far, there are no weather-related fatalities.

Cooper said 9,300 customers were without power at 4:30 p.m. ET Saturday, down from 25,000 earlier in the day. Utilities expected to restore electricity to most of those them by the end of Saturday.

The weather was so bad in the Triangle area that the Saturday night basketball game between the University of North Carolina and NC State University was postponed until 1 p.m. Sunday.

Two hikers lost for more than a day in a remote section of the Shining Rock Wilderness area of western North Carolina were located late Saturday and airlifted to a hospital, The Asheville Citizen-Times reported.

The two men went for a day hike Thursday and called authorities the next morning to report they were lost and off the trail, WLOS reported. Besides teams on foot, helicopters with heat-sensitive cameras searched the area, Cooper said at a news conference Saturday.

The storm that Atlantans were warned about Friday, sending them flocking to the grocery store, didn't pan out for the most part.

Three to 5 inches of snow were predicted, but only a dusting of snow fell on the city, though icy conditions persisted through Saturday and conditions stayed below freezing. Wind chill was also a problem.

The storm had knocked out power to more than 10,000 customers across metro Atlanta by early Saturday, Georgia Power said.

CNN affiliate WSB reported that by 3 p.m. Saturday, more than 3,500 Georgia Power customers statewide were without power, as were 1,500 Georgia EMC customers.

It didn't snow in the Sunshine State, but storms forced the cancellation of the Walt Disney World Half Marathon. This was the 20th anniversary of the event, which was sold out.

There was a tornado watch for western Florida, around Tampa. Event organizers in Orlando delayed and then canceled the race because of strong winds and lightning in the area.

West Coast
Meanwhile, the West Coast is coming in for some unpleasant weather, too.

A series of storms are pounding northern California, with 15-20 inches of rain forecast over the next seven days, according to CNN meteorologist Haley Brink. Flooding is likely in the coming days, Brink said.

Heavy rain is expected to hit the Los Angeles area by Saturday afternoon. The rain is expected also in the Las Vegas region.

Overall, 77 million people are under a winter weather advisory or warning across the southeastern United States and in the northwest, including the Sierras in northern California.

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