Powerful Winter Storm that Iced Streets and Downed Power lines Across the U.S. South


gsr-12A powerful winter storm that iced streets and downed power lines across the U.S. South moved toward the Northeast with heavy snow and sleet, threatening to cripple air and ground travel.

The storm may bring 8 to 12 inches (20 to 30 centimeters) of snow to New York City and more to its northern and western suburbs starting early tomorrow, the-National-Weather-Service said. Philadelphia might get 10 inches andWashington, 8 inches. An additional 1/10-inch of ice is forecast to coat Atlanta before the storm ends there.

“It is pretty nasty” in the South, said Tom Kines, a meteorologist with AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania. “They should probably just close everything and not start opening things up until Monday. I just cannot imagine what it’s like down there. There’s nobody on the roads and there shouldn’t be any.”

Across the U.S., 3,362 flights were canceled as of 7:11 p.m. New York time today, including more than two-thirds of all arrivals and departures at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, saidFlightAware, a Houston-based tracking service. An additional 3,749 flights were scrubbed for tomorrow. JetBlue Airways Corp. dropped 31 percent of its schedule for tomorrow.

Travel Curtailed

Highways across Georgia were closed because of icing and downed power lines, including U.S. 1, according to the state’s Department of Transportation website. Traffic slowed to a crawl in Charlotte and Raleigh, North Carolina, as people tried to make their way home in the snow.

Amtrak said it would cut back on the number of Acela and Northeast Regional trains it runs between Boston and Washington and suspended some trips into the South. Ten traffic deaths in the region were blamed on the storm, the Associated Press and state officials said.

About 410,000 homes and businesses from Arkansas to North Carolina were blacked out at about 6:45 p.m. New York time today, according to utility websites. That included 240,000 customers in North and South Carolina and 137,000 in Georgia.

An ice-storm warning was posted from eastern Alabama to South Carolina calling for as much as three-quarters of an inch. In addition, a Civil Emergency Message ordering motorists off the roadways was issued for South Carolina, the weather service said.

Ice Storm

“Possibly historic ice accumulations of over 1 inch of ice will be possible for portions of northern Georgia and South Carolina, with a little over half an inch of ice possible for central North Carolina,” said the U.S. Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.

In Atlanta, where schools closed yesterday, the city’s usually busy roads were clear and its buses halted because of the storm. The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority was sending some buses into the streets to act as warming shelters, according to its website. Lows overnight in Atlanta and Columbia, South Carolina, will reach 28 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 2.2 Celsius), the weather service said.

Philadelphia and Washington D.C. public schools canceled classes for tomorrow, the systems’ websites showed. Both cities issued a snow emergency, and Philadelphia closed offices for all non-essential workers. Four inches of snow was reported south of Roanoke, Virginia, as of 6:25 p.m. New York time, according to AccuWeather.

Snow will begin tonight in Washington, where Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen postponed tomorrow’s testimony before Congress, and start in Boston about dawn, Kines said.

New York

In New York, snow showers will start in the city after midnight and then become heavier through the morning, saidJoe Pollina, a weather service meteorologist in Upton, New York.

“By the time commute time comes around, we may see some moderate to heavy snow falling across the area,” Pollina said.

Rain and sleet may mix in with the snow throughout the day before changing back to all snow, he said. In northern New Jersey, it’s possible 10 to 14 inches will fall.

New York City issued a hazardous travel advisory, asking drivers to use major streets and highways for travel when possible.

Flat roofs, trees and power lines are in danger from new snow dropping atop any left over from last week, Pollina said. On Feb. 3, 8 inches fell in Central Park.

Above Average

So far this year, the park has received 41.5 inches, or 25.8 inches more than the 30-year average of 15.7, according to weather service data.

The governors of states including Georgia, Virginia, Maryland and New Jersey declared a state of emergency.

The storm’s track and speed will determine how much snow the large cities of the Northeast get, said Kines. Forecasters know that the snow will change to rain, however, exactly when that happens can’t be pinpointed.

“At the time or near the changeover time, the precipitation is going to be coming down pretty hard, so any delay in the changeover can mean 2 or 3 inches more,” Kines said. “If it changes over earlier, you can get 2 or 3 inches less.”

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