Severe late winter storm knocks out electricity and slows travel

A sprawling late-season winter storm brought mixed precipitation to much of the United States on Saturday, knocking out power to thousands and disrupting travel in dangerous conditions, meteorologists said.

About 16 million people from Tennessee to Maine were under some kind of winter weather warning, while some isolated areas were under a blizzard warning, according to the National Weather Service. The northeast interior was expected to bear the brunt of the storm.

“It’s a pretty expansive winter storm, but it’s moving very, very quickly,” Andrew Orrison, a meteorologist in College Park, Maryland, told the service’s weather forecast center on Saturday. “So this is one of those transactions where the worst impacts will really only be for today.”

Heavy snowfall was already affecting central Appalachia on Saturday morning, Orrison said, and it would move quickly into the northern mid-Atlantic region and into the northeast during the day.

Snow can fall in some places at a rate of one to two inches per hour and can combine with winds of up to 50 miles per hour, bringing “bloated, blown snow” from central Appalachia to the north -is, the weather forecast center warned on Twitter Saturday morning.

“Severely reduced visibility and whiteout conditions will at times make travel extremely dangerous,” the center said.

The center also warned that sharp overnight temperature drops could lead to dangerous conditions on untreated roads and that strong winds to the rear of the storm combined with heavy, wet snow could contribute to power outages. and damage to trees.

Nearly 80,000 people were without power in Georgia as of Saturday morning, including nearly 38,000 people in the Atlanta metro area, according to Georgia Power.

More than 74,000 people were without power in North Carolina and tens of thousands more were without power in Alabama, Florida, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Virginia, according to PowerOutage.us, which aggregates data from utilities across the United States.

Severe weather conditions also affected travel on Saturday, with more than 1,000 flights canceled within, to or from the United States on Saturday morning, according to FlightAware, a flight tracking service. More than 2,800 flights have been delayed.

Areas of northern Texas and southern Oklahoma received a few inches of snow Friday. Similar snow totals were reported in eastern Tennessee and parts of Kentucky Saturday morning.

Dolly Parton’s amusement park, Dollywood, in eastern Tennessee, was scheduled to open to the public for the first time this year on Saturday, but the opening was postponed due to overnight snowfall.

Parts of Kansas received up to five inches of snow, the weather service said. Weather warnings prompted Kansas City, Missouri, to close public schools Friday.

Record high temperatures were likely for much of the southeast on Sunday.

The northeast was most likely to bear the brunt of snow accumulations, forecasters said. Areas around Albany, NYcould receive up to four inches of snow, while areas further north could receive up to 12 inches.

In Vermontseven to 14 inches of snow was forecast for much of the state, and parts of northern Maine could receive 12 to 18 inches.

A meteorologist said it was not unusual to see a late winter storm system in March.

“March is one of those months where there are years where we see a lot of snow and there are years where we hardly see anything,” Torry Gaucher, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Norton, Mass., said on Friday. .

“Technically, we are in weather spring,” he added. “Calendar-wise, we still have a month before spring really hits.”

Towns closer to the coast, including New York City and Boston, were to receive a mix of rain and snow, with significantly less accumulation. The Boston area could receive at least an inch of snow Saturday and Sunday morning.

This weekend’s storm follows an active winter weather pattern across much of the south and east coast this year.

In early January, back-to-back storms created treacherous driving conditions in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, including a weather system that stranded hundreds of drivers on Interstate 95 in Virginia for more than 24 hours . The storm trapped truckers, students, families and every gang of commuters, including Senator Tim Kaine.

In mid-January, another storm hit the south, killing at least two people and leaving thousands without power before moving north and dropping heavy snowfall on parts of the northeast and Canada.

Another January storm swept across the East Coast, prompting thousands of flight cancellations and prompting the governors of New York and New Jersey to declare states of emergency. This storm dropped more than 30 inches of snow in parts of Massachusetts.

In early February, another storm hit parts of Texas with snow and sleet, disrupting travel and power. Governor Greg Abbott called it “one of the most significant icing events we’ve had in the state of Texas in at least several decades.”

Johnny Diaz contributed report.

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