A severe winter storm that blanketed highways in the Carolinas and Georgia with ice and power outages to nearly 200,000 customers headed northeast early Monday, where a foot or more of snow was forecast in some places. The heaviest snowfall is expected overnight.
The storm will likely move west of Washington, D.C. around midnight, then north into Pennsylvania, upstate New York and Vermont, and land in the province of Quebec by Monday evening , said Jim Connolly, meteorologist at the National Weather Service.
In the south, where some governors have declared states of emergency, areas such as central Mississippi and central North Carolina had already received more than nine inches of snowfall, while parts of central South Carolina had up to a half inch of ice, the National Weather Service said.
“This storm is going to be quite significant in terms of travel impacts, outages and things of that nature,” said Rich Otto, meteorologist with the Weather Service.
Northeast officials urged people to stay off the roads Sunday night, warning the storm is expected to bring up to a foot of snow to some areas, including Appalachia and upstate New York , and nearly two feet in northwestern Pennsylvania.
Meteorologists said in parts of the northeast, snow could fall at the rate of three inches per hour Sunday evening.
As of Sunday evening, the Washington area had already recorded snow, and more was on the way, with totals of up to 4 inches possible, according to the National Weather Service.
Parts of upstate New York, including Buffalo, were under a winter storm warning, with the potential for snowfall of up to 20 inches and “a significant amount of blowing snow and snow drift “, according to the weather service.
“The night is going to be very unpredictable,” Governor Kathy Hochul of New York said. “And with darkness and ice on the roads and high winds, it could be a very dangerous situation.”
Snow began falling in Buffalo Sunday evening and the “widespread” buildup will continue through tomorrow afternoon and early evening, said National Weather Service meteorologist Steven Welch. He said the heaviest snowfall is expected at night, from around 1 a.m. until daybreak.
Most areas on the south shore of Lake Ontario and west of Rochester will see at least a foot of snow, Welch said, adding that the Niagara border and Buffalo area could see more than 20 inches of snowfall. snow.
The New York area saw light snow Sunday evening, but with temperatures expected to rise above freezing, significant snowfall was not expected, said National Weather Service meteorologist David Stark.
“It will be a solid rain event overall for the New York area,” Mr. Stark said, adding that wind gusts of up to 50 miles per hour were more of a concern than snow or rain.
A “gradual transition” from snow to a winter mix and then to rain is expected overnight, Connolly said, adding the storm will subside by tomorrow morning for the metro area.
Governor Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey said during a press conference that “things are going to be wet, windy and messy” as the storm swept through the state on Sunday, with wind gusts of up to 50 miles per hour battering the state through Monday morning.
By early Sunday afternoon, the storm had already impacted several southern states.
In Georgia, about 27,000 customers were without power as of Sunday evening, according to PowerOutage.us, which aggregates data from utilities across the United States. South Carolina and North Carolina each had more than 40,000 customers without power.
More than a quarter inch of ice accumulated Sunday in parts of the Piedmont regions of North and South Carolina, said Frank Pereira, meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
Governor Roy Cooper of North Carolina warned residents at a press conference on Sunday to stay off the roads as parts of the state had received up to a foot of snow.
“For today, the best way to avoid a car accident or get stuck is to stay put,” he said.
As of Sunday morning, there were already 200 accident reports from the storm, said Col. Freddy Johnson Jr., commander of the State Highway Patrol.
“Travel is treacherous in much of our state,” Colonel Johnson said.
Two 41-year-old South Carolina residents died in a car crash east of Raleigh, after running off the road into trees, The Associated Press reported. They were pronounced dead at the scene.
North Carolina officials said the Twitter that “many North Carolina residents could be without power in extremely low temperatures” on Sunday. Mr Cooper said several counties were opening heated shelters.
In Kentucky, part of Interstate 75 in Laurel County was temporarily closed southbound. The Laurel County Fire Department said in a Facebook Publish that snow and icy conditions had caused a “significant traffic backup” and that several agencies were working to help stranded motorists.
The storm system also spawned two tornadoes in southwest Florida on Sunday morning, the weather service said. No deaths were reported, local officials said.
Three people were treated for minor injuries and significant damage was caused, including to 108 mobile homes at three parks in the Iona McGregor area of Fort Myers, Fla., said Richard Rude, a meteorologist with the Tampa Weather Service. . About 200 people were displaced, local officials said.
Rodney Wynn, a meteorologist with the Weather Service in Tampa, Fla., said it’s common for winter storm systems to cause “outbreaks of severe weather” in the South.
As the storm moved northeast on Sunday afternoon, it was expected to stay inland, meaning cities closer to the coast, from Washington to New York and Boston, will receive mostly heavy rains, Mr. Otto said.
Significant flooding was possible in parts of eastern Long Island and the New England coast Sunday evening and Monday morning, he said.
As of Sunday evening, around 1,000 flights had been canceled in the affected states, according to FlightAware.com, which tracks delays and cancellations across the country.
Elsewhere in the south, northeast Georgia and the Carolinas are expected to bear the brunt of freezing precipitation on Sunday, meteorologists said.
In Georgia, the Department of Public Safety reported several examples of drivers to lose control on icy roads, and officials noted that road conditions would worsen during the day as strong gusts of wind hit the state, hampering freeway clearance efforts.
Crews in Caroline from the south and Mississippi also worked on Sunday mornings to clear the highways. Videos shared by state transportation departments showed highways covered in snow and almost entirely clear of vehicles.
On Friday, Governor Ralph S. Northam of Virginia and Governor Brian Kemp of Georgia joined Mr. Cooper in declaring a state of emergency.
Virginia transportation officials were caught off guard this month when a storm stranded hundreds of drivers on Interstate 95 south of Washington.
On Sunday evening, the Virginia Department of Transportation said I-95 was in “moderate condition,” with partial snow and slush cover. With the potential for slippery conditions, the department urged travelers to get off the roads Sunday evening.
Grace Ashford, Jesus Jiménez and Christine Chung contributed report.