A dangerous winter storm combining high winds and ice was sweeping through parts of the U.S. Southeast on Sunday, knocking out power, felling trees and fences and coating roads with a treacherous, frigid glaze.
Tens of thousands of customers were without power in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida. Highway patrols were reporting hundreds of vehicle accidents, and a tornado ripped through a trailer park in Florida.
The storm was making air travel extremely difficult in some parts of the South. More than 1,200 Sunday flights at Charlotte Douglas International were cancelled – more than 90% of the airport’s Sunday schedule, according to the flight tracking service flightaware.com. Charlotte is a major hub in the South for American Airlines. In Atlanta, where Delta Air Lines operates its main hub, 350 Sunday flights had been canceled by early afternoon.
By noon Sunday, between 8 and 12 inches of snow had fallen in some counties of North Carolina, while significant icing was causing problems in the central part of the state.
Gov. Roy Cooper said during a noon news briefing that more than 41,000 homes and businesses were without power. Three shelters have been opened and more were on standby around the state for people without power or heat. Cooper urged people stay home and off the roads.
As of 2 p.m. Sunday, that total stood at over 91,000, with Moore County reporting more than 16,000, the most in the state as of mid-afternoon.
Col. Freddy Johnson Jr., commander of the North Carolina Highway Patrol, said that by late morning, the agency had responded to 200 car crashes and 460 calls for service.
Cooper said a short section of Interstate 95 was closed in both directions in Robeson County due to low-hanging, ice-covered power lines. He said crews were working to reopen the road and traffic was moving through a short detour.
Transportation Secretary J. Eric Boyette said many roads in the central and western part of the state were covered with ice. He said the eastern part of the state was being hit with high winds and rain.
“Travel is treacherous across much of our state,” Boyette said.
More than 250,000 customers were without power by late morning Sunday, according to poweroutage.us. Especially hard hit was Georgia, with nearly 110,000 outages. South Carolina had nearly 90,000 customers without power. The remaining outages were in Florida, North Carolina and Tennessee.