Millions of Americans were struggling under a winter storm that blocked roads and covered airports in treacherous ice across the South Saturday, threatening to paralyze transportation from Alabama all the way to New York City.
Four died from weather-related causes in Oregon, Kentucky, Georgia and Maine, according to The Weather Channel.
Parts of North Carolina and Virginia were forecast to see up to a foot of snow while roads in Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama were coated in ice, leading to hundreds of accidents. Charlotte, North Carolina, reported Saturday morning that 46 accidents, some with minor injuries, had occurred since 10 p.m. Friday. In Connecticut, state troopers reported a pileup that included at least 20 cars, three tractor trailers and a tanker on Saturday, but there were no serious injuries.
By early Saturday, the snow had reached as far north the New Jersey shoreline as it spread up the Atlantic coast. Blizzard warnings were in place for parts of Massachusetts through Sunday morning.
More than 50 flights were canceled at New York JFK and Newark airports early Saturday. Delta canceled 175 flights, most of which were into and out of its hub in Atlanta, due to the accumulation of ice at the airport there.
Road workers manning 12-hour shifts treated roads in advance after states of emergency were declared in Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas — racing the storm as it closed in on a swath of the Southeast with a mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain.
Sleet and snow fell on the northwest suburbs of Atlanta while rain and freezing rain brought slush to the city’s streets but there was no immediate repeat of the January 2014 gridlock in which many drivers wound up stranded in their cars.
Police in Alabama said roads in parts of the state were impassable, including Anniston and Oxford. State troopers said they had responded to several weather-related crashes and warned that ice-covered bridges were hazardous in the area of Birmingham.
North Carolina’s new governor, Roy Cooper, said a state of emergency had been declared in all of the state’s 100 counties. He said one person had died but it was yet to be determined with certainty that the death was weather-related.
As of 6 a.m., Cooper said, there had been 260 road accidents in the state, and 18,000 people were without electricity.
SOURCE: NBC News, Don Melvin