South-eastern US snow storm kills three, snarls travel and leaves nearly 250,000 without power
A lingering storm kept dumping immobilising snow, sleet or freezing rain across five states. (The News & Observer via AP: Julia Wall)
An intense snow storm has dumped up to 60 centimetres of snow on parts of the south-eastern United States, leaving at least three people dead in North Carolina and nearly 250,000 customers in the region still without power.
- Three people died in North Carolina, where as many as 41 centimetres of snow fell
- More than 100 counties across Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia cancelled classes
- Temperatures are expected to rise above freezing by the end of the week
School districts across North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia cancelled classes for the day and emergency officials warned that heavy snow and icy roads were slowing their responses to problems such as hundreds of stranded motorists.
The storm dropped its heaviest snow in the appropriately named Whitetop, Virginia, tucked in the Appalachian Mountains along the western end of the Virginia-North Carolina border, the US National Weather Service (NWS) said.
Whitetop received 60 centimetres of snow, while Greensboro, North Carolina, had 41 centimetres and Durham, North Carolina, got 36 centimetres.
Slippery conditions on roadways in central and western North Carolina and south-west Virginia were expected on Monday night (local time) as temperatures were forecast to drop below freezing, NWS meteorologist Daniel Petersen said.
But temperatures were expected to rise later in the week, reaching into the low teens (Celsius) east of the mountains on Friday, when there is also chance of rain.
Deaths, damage and delays
Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan declared a state of emergency for the North Carolina city. (News & Record via AP: H. Scott Hoffmann)
There were three storm-related deaths, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper’s office said in a statement.
A truck driver died on Sunday after suffering what appeared to be a heart attack while shovelling out his rig, which got stuck at the height of the storm along Interstate 77 in the central part of the state, Yadkin County Emergency Services Director Keith Vestal said.
The state emergency operations centre also said a terminally ill woman died when her oxygen device stopped working due to the power outage.
A motorist died and a passenger was injured in Matthews in south-western North Carolina on Sunday when a tree fell on his vehicle as it was travelling, Matthews police officials said in a statement.
In Charlotte, North Carolina, police shut down a street on Monday after reports of ice falling from the Duke Energy Center.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation said a livestock truck carrying pigs overturned on Interstate 40 westbound near the Tennessee line.
Westbound lanes were closed temporarily on Monday so the pigs could be corralled, but at least one lane was reopened by mid-afternoon.
Durham sheriff tweet: All that heavy wet #snow is starting to weigh #powerlines and tree branches down
More than 244,000 customers throughout the south-east lost power, Poweroutage.us reported, though the number of customers without power in the Carolinas and Virginia had decreased to about 138,000 by Monday evening.
The storm prompted the cancellation of more than 400 flights into and out of Charlotte/Douglas International Airport, the sixth-busiest in the country, and other airports across the region, flight-tracking website FlightAware said.
Tweet: Video shows conditions and clean-up efforts underway on the runway at Charlotte Douglas Airport
The mayor of Greensboro, North Carolina, Nancy Vaughan, who declared a state of emergency for the city on Sunday, said online that its police and fire departments had responded to more than 100 accidents and 450 stranded motorists.
“Stay off the roads if you can,” Ms Vaughan tweeted.
More than 100 counties across Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia delayed or cancelled classes on Monday because of severe weather.
Greg Jans, left, and Stacey Hash get in some cross-county skiing in their neighborhood in Roanoke, Virginia. (AP: Don Petersen)