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A major winter storm that is already dropping snow and freezing rain over the southern United States will drop temperatures, cause dangerous road conditions and power outages and move up the East Coast in the coming hours.
The major system could leave more than a foot of snow and more than a quarter inch of ice in some areas, the The National Weather Service warned.
Snowfall and freezing rain began before sunrise in parts of North Carolina. Parts of Georgia started to see freezing rain and gusty winds early Sunday. States that don’t typically experience such harsh winter conditions — such as Arkansas, Alabama and Mississippi — also experienced heavy snowfall and ice.
Heavy snowfall was expected throughout the day in the Tennessee Valley, Appalachia and parts of the mid-Atlantic, the NWS predicted, with heavy precipitation in parts of the southeast as well as Appalachians and Mid-Atlantic.
Meteorologists said the storm system would move north Sunday evening through Monday morning.
Travel is already getting tricky
Officials from Georgia to the Carolinas and Virginia – all of which were in a state of emergency – were urging residents to stay off the roads as snow began to fall on Sunday morning.
In addition to the rapidly accumulating snow and the possibility of icing, high winds were expected to down trees and power lines, making driving even more dangerous.
More than 2,500 US flights were canceled on Sunday, flight tracking website FlightAware reported. Just under half of the cancellations took place at Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina.
Ahead of the storm, Amtrak also canceled dozens of trains over the weekend and through Monday.
Power cuts started to appear
High winds and ice buildup pose the threat of widespread power outages – possibly for a few days – and power supply disruptions were already beginning in the first hours of the storm.
Power went out for more than 109,000 customers in Georgia at some point Sunday morning, according to the poweroutage.us website. About 89,000 customers in South Carolina, 31,000 customers in Florida, and another 16,000 customers in North Carolina also had no power.
The ice buildup meant power outages could persist even after the storm left the area, authorities said.
Given the possibility of major power outages in the area, officials were urging people to only use generators and gas grills outdoors to avoid the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Next stop: the northern United States
The storm will progress north Sunday night into Monday morning, the NWS said, stretching from the Ohio Valley to New England.
Parts of the Ohio Valley, lower Great Lakes and Northeast could expect heavy snowfall, while rain and freezing rain will hit other parts of the Northeast and of southern New England.
New York is should get less than an inch of snow, but the cities of New York and New Jersey about an hour’s drive west could see about five inches. Washington, DC was rated for two to three inches of snow, while parts of western Maryland braced for 8 inches to a foot.
Strong winds and flooding along the Atlantic coast are likely.
By Monday, the storm will bring heavy snow to the Maine interior with rain along the shore.