A dangerous winter storm combining high winds and ice swept through parts of the U.S. Southeast on Sunday, knocking out power, felling trees and fences and coating roads with a treacherous frigid glaze.
Tens of thousands of customers were without power in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida. More than an inch of snow fell per hour in some parts of the Carolinas, Georgia, Tennessee and Virginia, according to the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center.
The storm was making air travel extremely difficult in some parts of the South. The nation’s hardest-hit airport — Charlotte Douglas International — remained open around dawn Sunday, the airport said in a weather briefing. But more than 1,000 Sunday flights in Charlotte have been cancelled – more than 80% of the airport’s Sunday schedule, according to the flight tracking service f lightaware.com. Charlotte is a major hub in the South for American Airlines.
In Atlanta, where Delta Air Lines operates it main hub, more than 300 Sunday flights have been canceled.
Conditions were expected to continue to deteriorate later Sunday, and possible ground stops were possible at airports in the Washington, D.C. area, the Federal Aviation Administration said in its air traffic control plan for Sunday.
Parts of North Carolina were under a winter storm warning until Monday morning. Raleigh was experiencing a mix of frozen precipitation. In the Asheville area, local television footage showed snow accumulation covering the streets with white. Buncombe County closed all parks, libraries and solid waste facilities through Monday. In Boone to the northeast, Appalachian State University suspended many operations on Sunday and told all but certain essential workers to remain away from campus until at least Monday morning.
By early Sunday, more than 100,000 customers were without power in Georgia but the vast majority of them were northeast of the metro Atlanta area, in the northeast Georgia mountains, according to poweroutage.US, which tracks outages nationwide. Rabun County, in Georgia’s northeast corner, was hardest hit with more than half the customers there without power. About 50,000 customers were without power in South Carolina; and 11,000 customers in North Carolina had no power.
Crews pretreated roadways in Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia but officials still urged people to stay off them unless travel was necessary. The Tennessee Highway Patrol said in a tweet that some roads in East Tennessee were snow-covered and that troopers were working several accidents due to ice.
In Greenville, South Carolina, an out-of-the-ordinary snowfall coated roads before changing to ice. Much of the state was under a winter storm warning, with winds as high as 40 mph (64 kph).