A strong winter storm brought heavy snow to parts of the Southeast on Sunday and was expected to leave about 1 foot of snow in parts of the Northeast, knocking out power to tens of thousands of customers as dangerous ice coated highways in the Carolinas.
In the South, where some governors declared states of emergency Friday, areas such as central Mississippi and central North Carolina had already received more than 9 inches of snow, while portions of Tennessee and Alabama received a mixture of snow and freezing rain, the National Weather Service said.
“This storm is going to be pretty significant in terms of generating travel impacts, outages and things of that nature,” said Rich Otto, a meteorologist with the weather service.
In Georgia, about 75,000 customers were without power Sunday afternoon, according to PowerOutage.us, which aggregates data from utilities across the United States. South Carolina had nearly 99,000 customers without power, and North Carolina had about 48,000.
More than a quarter-inch of ice was expected to accumulate in the Piedmont regions of North and South Carolina on Sunday.
Forecasters said the storm system could bring more than 1 foot of snow to some areas, including parts of the Appalachians and upstate New York. Parts of the upper Midwest and northwest Pennsylvania could get up to 2 feet of snow, Otto said.
Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina warned residents at a news conference Sunday to stay off the roads because parts of the state had received up to 1 foot of snow.
“For today, the best way to avoid a car accident or getting stranded is to stay put,” he said.
As of Sunday morning, there were already 200 reports of crashes as a result of the storm, said Col. Freddy Johnson Jr., commander of the State Highway Patrol.
“Travel is treacherous across much of our state,” Johnson said.
The North Carolina Office of Emergency Management said on Twitter that “many North Carolinians could be without power in extremely low temperatures” on Sunday. Cooper said several counties were opening warm shelters for them.
As the storm moves toward the Northeast on Sunday afternoon, it will remain inland, meaning cities closer to the coast, from Washington to Boston, will primarily receive heavy rain, Otto said.
Significant flooding was possible in parts of eastern Long Island, New York, and coastal New England on Sunday night and into Monday morning, he said.
Ben Gelber, a meteorologist at WCMH-TV in Columbus, Ohio, said Saturday that “more people will be impacted by this storm than any winter storm we’ve had this season.”
Elsewhere in the South, meteorologists said, northeastern Georgia and the Carolinas were expected to bear the brunt of freezing precipitation Sunday.
In Georgia, the Department of Public Safety reported several examples of drivers losing control on icy roadways, and officials said that road conditions would worsen through the day as strong wind gusts battered the state, hindering efforts to clear the highways.
Crews in South Carolina and Mississippi were also working Sunday morning to clear highways. Videos shared by the states’ transportation departments showed highways that were white with snow and almost entirely clear of vehicles.
On Friday, Gov. Ralph S. Northam of Virginia and Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia joined Cooper by declaring states of emergency.
“This upcoming weather system is likely to include additional downed trees, more electrical outages and significant impacts on travel conditions,” Northam said in his declaration, issued on his last full day in office.
Virginia transportation officials were caught off guard early this month when a storm stranded hundreds of drivers on Interstate 95 south of Washington.
Northam warned that the storm could produce wind gusts of up to 70 mph along the coast.
Temperatures fell well below zero Saturday throughout New England and parts of New York.
Southwest Airlines warned travelers passing through airports across the South that flights could be delayed, diverted or canceled. American Airlines and Delta Air Lines made similar announcements related to the weather.
By Sunday morning, more than 1,000 flights had been canceled in the affected states, according to FlightAware.com, which tracks delays and cancellations across the country.