NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — A layer of ice and a blanket of snow covered coastal areas stretching from South Carolina to Virginia early Saturday after a winter weather system brought colder temperatures and precipitation not often seen in the region.
Authorities urged drivers to stay off the roads and highways, which forecasters said are slick and snow-packed in the storm’s aftermath. They also warned of black ice.
Temperatures were cold for the Southeast states. Meteorologists said they likely won’t rise above the 30s in Virginia and much of North Carolina during the day and will drop into the 20s and even teens in some places on Saturday night.
By about 7 a.m. Saturday, the storm had mostly blown off the Atlantic Coast, leaving as much as six inches of snow in southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina, meteorologists said.
“The snow has stopped, the sun is up, temps remain below freezing and roads remain hazardous to motorists. Stay home and avoid travel today,” the Virginia Department of Transportation tweeted on Saturday morning.
Farther south, there was ice in parts of coastal North Carolina, which stretched along much of the South Carolina coast as well, although in much smaller amounts.
“There was basically a glaze reported as far south as Charleston,” said Carl Morgan, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wilmington. “We’re talking less than a 10th of an inch of freezing rain.”
The snowfall in southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina mirrored the forecast of 4 to 6 inches, said Mike Montefusco, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wakefield, Virginia. He said Saturday’s cold temperatures would keep the snow from melting at least until Sunday, when temperatures were expected to reach the 40s.
The snow prompted some restaurants along the touristy Virginia Beach oceanfront to close on Saturday. But two eateries, Commune and Prosperity Kitchen, opened their doors in the hopes that people would brave a walk from nearby residential neighborhoods.
“We’ve had storms like this in the past, and either we’re completely dead or super busy because everyone just wants to get out in the snow and have a fun day,” said Kevin Jamison, who owns both restaurants.
Jamison said customers were already trickling in Saturday morning.
“Just to be in a nice, cozy cafe and getting coffee — there’s something romantic about that,” Jamison added. “And I think maybe other people are feeling the same way.”
But farther south, the ice in the Carolinas has already caused headaches for some.
About 6,000 customers were without power in the area around Morehead City, North Carolina, which is south of the Outer Banks, Duke Energy reported on its website. Another 1,000 lost power in the Wilmington Area.
About 4,500 had lost power in coastal South Carolina on Friday night, including in Myrle Beach. But most were back online Saturday morning, according to utility Santee Cooper.
In coastal Onslow County, North Carolina, officials said that several highway bridges remained closed Saturday morning, and urged drivers to stay off even the ones that are open.
“All bridges in Onslow County are hazardous to traverse, even the ones that aren’t closed to traffic,” the county government said in a Facebook post.
A Delta Air Lines plane with 19 passengers on board skidded off the runway and rolled into mud while taxiing at North Carolina’s snowy Raleigh-Durham International Airport on Friday night, according to airport officials. No injuries were reported aboard the flight from Washington, D.C.
Earlier that day, an ambulance transporting a patient near Raleigh slid off an icy road, injuring two workers aboard, according to North Carolina’s state Highway Patrol. The patient died after the crash, but the cause of death hasn’t been confirmed. The governor’s office said numerous crashes were reported Friday morning after the storm’s first wave.
Officials in all three states have warned people to stay off the roads as much as they can.
In the Myrtle Beach area, a fire chief warned that even walking out the front door could be treacherous.
“One of our biggest concerns are slips, trips and falls. We’re not used to the ice around here as much. Be very careful just stepping out of your own home,” Horry County Fire Chief Joey Tanner said.
Associated Press writers Jeffrey Collins in Columbia, South Carolina; Sarah Brumfield in Silver Spring, Maryland; and Jonathan Drew in Durham, North Carolina, contributed to this report.