January 7, 2017 9:44:20 pm
A winter storm blanketed parts of North Carolina and Virginia with snow Saturday as its slow march across the Southeast grounded flights and left roads icy and impassible.
The National Weather Service said North Carolina cities including Burlington, Greensboro and Roxboro had received eight inches or more of snow, while sleet and ice were making roads treacherous in Raleigh and areas southeast. Next on the storm’s path was southeast Virginia, where several inches had already fallen in some places. Snow accumulation could approach one foot in some places.
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North Carolina’s governor said the weather had caused 260 traffic accidents by 6 am and urged people to stay off the roads. Meanwhile, Duke Energy reported more than 21,000 outages in the Carolinas, with many in the Charlotte area.
“If I tell you anything it would be stay home,” said Gov. Roy Cooper, describing North Carolina roads as “treacherous.” ”Do not go out and drive on the roads unless you absolutely have to.”
In Cornelius, north of Charlotte, Matt Thomas said he used a ruler to measure nearly 6 inches of snow and sleet that had piled up on the back of his pickup truck. He said his wife stocked up on groceries, and he planned to spend the weekend at home enjoying the snow and watching television. A plow had made a pass through his neighborhood, but the road still looked slippery.
“The sleet started first, so there’s definitely a layer of ice under the snow,” he said by phone. “I’m staying home.”
A blizzard warning for southeast Virginia accompanied forecasts of high winds and up to nine inches of snow there. The National Weather Service had already measured nearly 6 inches of snow at its post in Wakefield on Saturday.
But even with snow already coating Virginia Beach roads Saturday, diners and staff made it to the popular breakfast spot Citrus.
“When there’s bad weather, people come out,” manager Tara Junke said. “I’ve worked in restaurants for 20 years in Hampton Roads and we’ve never shut down for snow.”
Chris Turner, 58, a health care analyst sitting at the counter with a mug of tea, said he drove seven miles to his usual breakfast spot, aided by four-wheel drive.
“It’s fun to enjoy mother nature in all her glory,” he said. “I’d rather be out. I can’t stay at home.”
The website for Norfolk International Airport in Virginia showed that every arriving flight had been cancelled for Saturday, along with most departing flights. North Carolina airports including those in Charlotte and Raleigh also reported cancellations and urged travelers to check with their carrier.
To the north, Delaware declared a state of emergency for Sussex County in the southern part of the state. States of emergency were also declared in Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas.
One fatality — a man whose pickup truck went off a snow-slickened Kentucky road Thursday — has been reported. But the winter road mess caused hundreds of fender benders and other non-injury crashes, some involving school buses, on Nashville, Tennessee, roads Friday. Several crashes were reported in Chattanooga in the eastern part of the state.
One to 3 inches of snow fell across northern Georgia before tapering off Saturday morning. Though rain and freezing rain fell at times in Atlanta, its workers, schools and companies dismissed early Friday, avoiding the epic snowstorm traffic jam of January 2014 that stranded motorists in cars on interstates. Some took to sledding in snow-coated northern Atlanta suburbs and in Tennessee.
Lauren Rathbone, manager of Public Hardware in Durham, North Carolina, said the store sold out of more than 100 sleds Friday, along with bags and bags of ice melt to treat driveways and walks.
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