Winter storm pushes up U.S. East Coast after deep-freeze in the South
(Reuters) - A massive winter storm that left parts of Southeastern United States in a deep freeze was pushing up the East Coast on Sunday, with snow and ice snarling road travel and forcing another round of airline cancellations.
The storm system dropped between 3 and 6 inches of snow on West Virginia early Sunday before blanketing the Washington, D.C., metro area with its first accumulation of the season.
Marching north, it was expected to pummel the East Coast with snow, sleet, and freezing rain from Baltimore to north of Portland, Maine, according to the National Weather Service.
The storm system coated roads and highways from Virginia through southeastern Pennsylvania with snow and ice, and reduced visibility made car travel treacherous. The Delaware Memorial Bridge, which links Delaware with New Jersey, was closed briefly "due to ice and multiple accidents," according to the bridge's official Twitter account.
Parts of Maryland, Delaware and southern New Jersey could get up to a foot of snow, said Brian Hurley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
"What's really significant about this system is this narrow band of heavy snow in some areas," he said.
Flights to and from Philadelphia International were temporarily grounded, the Federal Aviation Administration said.
The storm system closed in on New York City and could linger over the tri-state area through Monday morning's rush hour commute.
The New York City Department of Sanitation issued a "snow alert" starting Sunday afternoon, and was preparing salt spreaders and plows to clear covered roads.
An expected 1 to 3 inches of snowfall in Philadelphia and New York City would be the first of the season, and comes about 10 days earlier than the average first snowfall, according to the National Weather Service.
The snowy, cold weather was also proving a challenge for professional football, with several players injured after slipping while playing on slick fields.
Snow covered the ground and stands at Baltimore's M&T Stadium, where the Baltimore Ravens played the Minnesota Vikings in driving wind and 25-degree Fahrenheit (minus 4 Celsius) conditions. The Philadelphia Eagles took on the Detroit Lions in near white-out conditions.
The blast of cold air and precipitation was also bringing light snowfall to the Midwest, including parts of Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin.
A number of traffic accidents were reported on Milwaukee-area roads and freeways, including a pileup of as many as 20 cars that shut down a highway in Racine County. In a separate crash, one person was killed after a vehicle flipped over along a slick road, the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office said.
Air travelers were also bracing for the worst, with airports in Newark, New Jersey, New York City, and Philadelphia reporting delays.
Thousands of stranded travelers have been trapped in Dallas-Forth Worth International Airport since Friday, and major airlines scrubbed dozens of flights again on Sunday, according to the FAA. Airlines canceled more than 400 flights on Saturday.
North Texas was still shivering under below-freezing temperatures left behind after an ice storm slickened roads and knocked out power lines, leaving some 267,000 customers in without power at the height of the storm, according to utility provider Oncor.
The storm also battered Arkansas and Tennessee with ice, snow and zero-degree temperatures, leaving streets a slick and slushy danger zone across the region. At least three people were killed when their cars skidded off the road, authorities said.
As many as 7,000 people in Tennessee were still without power Sunday. "For some of our customers it may take a couple of days to get their power back," said Rob Fisher, director of Emergency Management for Dickson County.
A marathon for Saturday was canceled in Memphis due to icy conditions and the danger of falling tree limbs.
A hospital in Dickson County, Tennessee, lost power and for a time was running on generators.
The Arctic chill from the storm was so widespread that Western states, including Nevada, Washington and California, were slammed with snow, sleet and record-setting cold temperatures, according to the National Weather Service.
Temperatures in Jordan, Montana, fell to a record low of 42 degrees Fahrenheit below zero (minus 41 degrees Celsius) on December 7, also the lowest temperature recorded for the country during the storm.
The cold weather system will leave the East Coast on Monday, the National Weather Service said.
(Additional reporting by Timothy Ghianni; Editing by Daniel Trotta and Marguerita Choy)