Winter storm pushes up U.S. East Coast after deep-freeze in the South

Sun Dec 8, 2013 2:29pm EST

Dec 8 (Reuters) - A frigid winter storm that left hundreds of thousands of people without power in the Southeastern United States was pushing up the East Coast on Sunday, with snow and ice threatening to snarl road travel and force another round of airline cancellations.

The massive storm system dropped between 3 and 6 inches (7.6 and 25 cm) of snow on West Virginia early Sunday before blanketing the Washington, D.C., metro area with its first accumulation of the season.

The storm was moving up the East Coast, with snow, sleet, and freezing rain expected from Baltimore, Maryland, to north of Boston, according to the National Weather Service.

The system was expected to reach Philadelphia and New York City by Sunday afternoon and linger over the 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.

The expected 3 to 6 inches of snowfall in Philadelphia and New York City will be the first of the season, and comes about 10 days earlier than the average first snowfall, according to the National Weather Service.

Forecasters also warned of treacherous road travel from Kentucky and North Carolina all the way through New England.

Air travelers were also bracing for the worst, with airports in Philadelphia, Newark, New Jersey, and New York City reporting delays.

"People attempting to catch Sunday afternoon and evening flights in or out of the mid-Atlantic are likely to experience delays and could be faced with a few cancellations. These flight disruptions will expand into New England Monday," Accuweather meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said in a statement.

Thousands of stranded travelers have been trapped in Dallas-Forth Worth International Airport since Friday, and major airlines scrubbed dozens of flights again Sunday, according to the FAA. Airlines canceled more than 400 flights 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 mess across the region. At least three people were killed when their cars skidded off the road, authorities said.

A marathon for Saturday was canceled in Memphis, Tennessee, due to icy conditions and the danger of falling tree limbs.

A hospital in Dickson County, Tennessee, lost power and 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 Dec. 7, also the lowest temperature recorded for the country during the storm.

The cold weather system will leave the East Coast on Monday night, the National Weather Service said.