Winter storm moves up East Coast, NC hit hard

(Governor Cooper)

The winter storm that socked the Southeast moved up the East Coast on Saturday, with the National Weather Service predicting the storm could drop a foot of snow in Boston, 2 feet on the Massachusetts coast, 7 inches in New York and 5 inches in Philadelphia.

The Cape Cod area of Massachusetts looked like it would receive the heaviest blow. The weather service issued a blizzard warning for that area until 3 a.m. ET Sunday, saying “near-whiteout” conditions were possible. Winds could hit 45 mph, the weather service said.

The town of Barnstable, on the Cape, said 1-3 inches of snow could fall per hour and urged residents not to park on the main street because of snow plows.

Going back to work on Monday could be treacherous. Temperatures won’t rise above freezing until Tuesday, the weather service said.

Travel problems

Thousands of travelers had flights canceled up and down the East Coast because of the winter weather and the shooting at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida.

Alexia Marramarco a French foreign exchange student on her way back to Georgia State University in Atlanta, was one of them.

First, her flight Friday from Paris to Fort Lauderdale was diverted to Miami because of the shooting. Then, after being bused to Fort Lauderdale, Marramarco learned her connecting flight to Atlanta was canceled because of weather.

“I haven’t slept,” she said Saturday.

Asked if she thought she’d get back to campus by Saturday night, she said, “Je ne sais pas.” (“I don’t know.”)

The Fort Lauderdale airport closed one of its four terminals after the shooting but reopened it for flights on Saturday afternoon.

FlightAware, an airline tracking website, listed more than 2,100 cancellations within, into or out of the United States by 6 p.m. ET Saturday. Airports in Boston and Philadelphia urged travelers to check with their carriers about their flight status.

Drivers also ran into problems.

A pileup involving as many as 20 vehicles shut down a section of Interstate 91 near Middletown, Connecticut, on Saturday afternoon, WBZ reported. No serious injuries were reported.

Virginia State Police responded to 325 crashes and 322 stuck vehicles between midnight and noon Saturday ET, according to the agency’s verified Facebook page. North Carolina State Highway Patrol troopers have responded to nearly 1,500 calls for service and more than 700 vehicle collisions since midnight.

Lost hikers

A search was underway Saturday for two hikers lost in a remote section of the Shining Rock Wilderness area in western North Carolina.

The two men went for a day hike Thursday and called authorities Friday morning to report they were lost and off the trail, WLOS reported. The men managed to make another phone call Saturday morning to say they’d started a fire, WLOS said, citing emergency preparedness officials.

Besides teams on foot, helicopters with heat-sensitive cameras were searching the area, Gov. Roy Cooper said at a news conference Saturday.

Temperatures are expected to fall into the single digits on Saturday night and 8-12 inches of snow is on the ground, said Dana Stewart, a spokeswoman for the Haywood County Incident Management Team, according to the Asheville Citizen-Times.

“We do need to find them tonight,” Cooper said. “It’s about to get brutally cold and in the mountains they are expecting the wind chill to be -5 to -15.”

North Carolina

North Carolina took a heavy punch Friday night, with WRAL reporting that Raleigh saw about 2 inches of snow but surrounding areas, including Orange and Durham counties, got 6 inches or more.

Though snow tapered off Saturday, driving conditions will remain hazardous because of low temperatures and ice on the highways.

“Throughout Monday the weather is going to be pretty cold and whatever is on the road will still be there,” Cooper said. He said that, so far, there are no weather-related fatalities.

Cooper said 9,300 customers were without power at 4:30 p.m. ET Saturday, down from 25,000 earlier in the day. Utilities expected to restore electricity to most of those them by the end of Saturday.

The weather was so bad in the Triangle area that the Saturday night basketball game between the University of North Carolina and NC State University was postponed until 1 p.m. Sunday.

Georgia

The storm that Atlantans were warned about Friday, sending them flocking to the grocery store, didn’t pan out for the most part.

Three to 5 inches of snow were predicted, but only a dusting of snow fell on the city, though icy conditions persisted through Saturday and conditions stayed below freezing. Wind chill was also a problem.

The storm had knocked out power to more than 10,000 customers across metro Atlanta by early Saturday, Georgia Power said.

WSB reported that by 3 p.m. Saturday, more than 3,500 Georgia Power customers statewide were without power, as were 1,500 Georgia EMC customers.

Florida

It didn’t snow in the Sunshine State, but storms forced the cancellation of the Walt Disney World Half Marathon. This was the 20th anniversary of the event, which was sold out.

There was a tornado watch for western Florida, around Tampa. Event organizers in Orlando delayed and then canceled the race because of strong winds and lightning in the area.

West Coast

Meanwhile, the West Coast is coming in for some unpleasant weather, too.

A series of storms are pounding northern California, with 15-20 inches of rain forecast over the next seven days, according to CNN meteorologist Haley Brink. Flooding is likely in the coming days, Brink said.

Heavy rain is expected to hit the Los Angeles area by Saturday afternoon. The rain is expected also in the Las Vegas region.

Overall, 77 million people are under a winter weather advisory or warning across the southeastern United States and in the northwest, including the Sierras in northern California.