More than 1,000 Flights Canceled as South Faces Wintry Mess: Snow, Sleet, Freezing Rain

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Children and adults were making the most of the snowstorm in parts of North Carolina.  The video is from Wake County.

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (AP) – A storm spreading snow, sleet and freezing rain across a wide swath of the South has millions of people in its path, raising the threat of immobilizing snowfalls, icy roads, and possible power outages.

Governors and local officials in several states declared emergencies ahead of the storm crossing several Southern states and poised to hit particularly hard in portions of North Carolina and Virginia.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said Saturday that residents in some parts of the state should be ready for a lengthy fight with the storm, which was beginning to dump sleet and snow across its western mountain areas Saturday night.

“We’re preparing for days of impact, not hours,” Cooper said, urging caution. “This weekend isn’t the time to head out to see the winter wonderland. Stay safe where you are. Getting out on dangerous roads could put your life at risk.”

Officials have warned residents to prepare emergency kits and staff off roads in impacted areas.

“Virginians should take all necessary precautions to ensure they are prepared for winter weather storm impacts,” said Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam.

The National Weather Service said a “prolonged period of snow” began late Saturday and would last until Monday in the region, with the heaviest snow expected in northwest North Carolina and southern Virginia. Forecasters have said some mountain areas of North Carolina could get up to 12 inches (30 centimeters) of snow or more.

Heavy rains also were expected elsewhere in other parts of the South, creating possible floods in coastal areas.

More than 300,000 power outages have been reported across the region with the majority of those – about 180,000 – in North Carolina, according to poweroutage.us. More than 82,000 were without power in South Carolina, while a total of about 75,000 outages were reported across Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi.

Charlotte Douglas International Airport, the sixth busiest airport in the country, said American Airlines would reduce its operations starting Saturday evening, with more than 1,000 flights canceled on Sunday.

American has also issued a travel alert for nine airports throughout the Carolinas, Tennessee, and Virginia, meaning passengers may be able to change travel plans without a fee.

Travelers were advised to check their flight status before heading to the airport. Cancellations were reported on flights from as far as the Midwest.

Signs of a pending monster snowfall were prevalent. Traffic crews treated roads ahead of the storm. Amtrak has canceled or modified some routes because of the storm. And many hardware stores sold out of ice melt.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. 

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