Record-breaking cold gripped the eastern United States on Monday while an icy winter storm crippled the nation’s central states and then plowed into the mid-Atlantic, dumping snow ahead of Tuesday’s morning commute.
Heavy snowfall and ice moving from the Southern Plains eastward pounded Missouri, Arkansas, southern Illinois, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio, the National Weather Service said.
With the storm headed east and sleet and freezing rain expected to also take a swipe at the South, states of emergency were declared in North Carolina, Virginia, Mississippi, Georgia, Kentucky, as well as in Washington, D.C.
Airlines canceled more than 1,800 U.S. flights, with the hardest hit airports in North Carolina and Tennessee.
Freezing rain encased Tennessee in ice, closing roads, schools and tourist attractions, including home of the king of rock ‘n’ roll – Elvis Presley’s Graceland mansion in Memphis.
Sleet in Arkansas shut schools and Governor Asa Hutchinson told nearly all government workers to stay home.
Cars skidded off roads near Louisville, Kentucky, where there were six times the usual number of accidents and a fleet of more than 1,000 snow plows tried to clear slick roads, officials said.
“It’s been all hands on deck,” said Chuck Wolfe, spokesman for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.
Citing nasty weather, Kentucky’s state legislature said it would not reconvene until Wednesday at the earliest.
The storm dumped 10 inches (25 cm) of snow on Cincinnati and then headed east to Washington, D.C., slamming the nation’s capital with heavy snow that could pile as high as 12 inches, said NWS meteorologist Brian Hurley.
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SOURCE: Reuters, Elizabeth Barber