Snow, ice blast through South; tornado damage in Florida

Weather

CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — A major winter storm combining high winds and ice swept through parts of the U.S. Southeast on Sunday, knocking out power to tens of thousands, coating roads and powerlines with treacherous ice.

Tens of thousands of customers were without power in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida. Highway patrols reported hundreds of vehicle accidents, and a tornado ripped through a trailer park in Florida.

Outages, which had ballooned to a quarter-million customers earlier in the day, stood at more than 131,000 customers as of Monday morning, according to poweroutage.us. North Carolina was the hardest hit, peaking at some 31,000 outages. Parts of Georgia, South Carolina, Florida, Virginia and Kentucky also lost power.

CAROLINAS
Jason Belanger, of Duncan, S.C., measures six inches of snow on a table in his yard on Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022 as a winter storm brought snow and ice to the state. (Jason Belanger via AP)

Winter Storm Izzy dumped as much as 10 inches of snow in some areas of western North Carolina as the system moved across the southeastern U.S., said Brian Hurley, a meteorologist with the Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.

First Sgt. Christopher Knox, a spokesman for the North Carolina Highway Patrol, said that by midafternoon, the agency had responded to 300 car crashes and nearly 800 calls for service. Two people died Sunday when their car slid off the road and into trees in a median east of Raleigh. The driver and passenger, both 41-year-old South Carolina residents, were pronounced dead at the scene of the single-vehicle crash. Knox said investigators believe the car was being driven too fast for the conditions, described as mixed winter precipitation.

Durham police tweeted a photo of a tractor-trailer that slid off the N.C. Highway 147 overpass in Durham. The truck’s cab appeared to have landed upright on Highway 15-501 below, while the trailer came down in a vertical position from the bridge to the highway below. Police spokesperson Kammie Michael said the driver was stable with injuries that did not appear life-threatening.

In this photo provided by the Durham Police Department, a truck hangs from the highway N.C. 147 overpass after its cab apparently slid off the highway during winter weather, Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022, in Durham, N.C. The cab of the truck appeared to have landed upright on Highway 15-501 below, while the trailer was in a vertical position, from the bridge to the highway below, causing road closures. (Durham Police Department via AP)
VIRGINIA
This image provided by Virginia State Police shows the scene of a multi-vehicle crash on Interstate 81 in Culpeper County at Alanthus Rd. near Route 29, Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022. (Virginia State Police via AP)

Virginia State Police said traffic came to a standstill Sunday afternoon on Interstate 81 in Roanoke County after a tractor-trailer jackknifed and the cab of the truck disconnected from the trailer in the northbound lanes. Two additional accidents occurred in the traffic backup, one with minor injuries. The Virginia Department of Transportation said a detour was being set up. “Please stay off the roads if possible. Begging again! Hazardous conditions,” read a tweet from VDOT’s Salem office.

From midnight to 12:45 p.m., Virginia state troopers responded to 142 traffic crashes and 162 disabled vehicles. No traffic fatalities were reported.

WEST VIRGINIA

The West Virginia Department of Homeland Security tweeted photos of snow-covered roads in the southern part of the state and advised residents to “keep calm and hunker down.” The agency says the storm is moving north and most areas of the state are expected to have accumulations of at least 4 inches, with up to 12 inches possible in the mountains.

Florida tornado

The National Weather Service confirmed that a tornado with 118 mph winds struck southwest Florida.

The weather service said the tornado was on the ground for almost two miles with a maximum path width of 125 yards. Thirty mobile homes were destroyed and 51 had major damage. Three minor injuries were reported. The Florida Highway Patrol reported that a large tornado crossed Interstate 75 near Naples, causing a semitruck to overturn.

Florida Power and Light reported that about 16,000 customers in southwest Florida were without power.

You can see the tornado from another angle here.

Credit: @jrmozer5 via Storyful

NORTHEAST

New York City was expected to be spared from most, if not all, of the snowfall, but Long Island and Connecticut coastal areas were expecting gale conditions. Upstate New York was projected to get hit with up to a foot of snow to go along with high winds.

Six to 13 inches of snow was expected in parts of east-central Ohio and western Pennsylvania from Sunday afternoon.

Frigid temperatures lingered across New England on Sunday, with wind chills in northern Vermont reported at -27 Fahrenheit. In Boston, where a cold emergency was declared on Saturday, wind chills remained below zero even as the region started the thaw.

Flights canceled

The storm is making air travel extremely difficult in some parts of the South. 

More than 3,000 flights entering, departing from, or within the U.S. were canceled Sunday, according to the flight tracking site flightaware.com, which tracks flight cancellations worldwide.

A major U.S. airport hub for American Airlines — Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina — led the list of cancellations at U.S. airports. The airport is working on maintaining surfaces and will continue throughout the storm, according to a tweet.

American Airlines canceled at least 670 Sunday flights or 23% of its daily schedule. Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines canceled more than 240 of its flights and Southwest canceled 343 flights, the flight tracking site showed.

Travelers are being advised to check in with their airline for updates on delays, cancelations or rebookings before coming to the airport.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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