Storm pushes up U.S. East Coast after deep-freeze in the South

Reuters

By Victoria Cavaliere

Dec 8 (Reuters) - A massive winter storm that left parts ofthe Southeastern United States in a deep freeze pushed up theEast Coast on Sunday, with snow and ice snarling road travel andforcing another round of airline cancellations.

The storm system dropped between 3 and 6 inches (7.6 and15.2 cm) of snow on West Virginia early Sunday before blanketingthe Washington, D.C., metro area with its first accumulation ofthe season.

Marching north, it was expected to pummel the East Coastwith snow, sleet, and freezing rain from Baltimore to north ofPortland, Maine, according to the National Weather Service.

The storm system coated roads and highways from Virginiathrough southeastern Pennsylvania with snow and ice, and reducedvisibility made car travel treacherous. The Delaware MemorialBridge, which links Delaware with New Jersey, was closed briefly"due to ice and multiple accidents," according to the bridge'sofficial Twitter account.

Parts of Maryland, Delaware and southern New Jersey couldget up to a foot (30 cm) of snow, said Brian Hurley, ameteorologist with the National Weather Service.

"What's really significant about this system is this narrowband of heavy snow in some areas," he said.

Flights to and from Philadelphia International weretemporarily grounded, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

Just to the west of Philadelphia, near Morgantown, more than50 cars and trucks were damaged in a series of chain-reactioncrashes on the Pennsylvania Turnpike just after noon on Sunday,turnpike spokesman Carl DeFebo said.

The crash that started the chain reaction involved 12vehicles. One man was killed when he exited his vehicle afterthat crash, DeFebo said.

In the Northeast, the storm system closed in on New YorkCity and could linger over the tri-state area through Mondaymorning's rush hour commute. The New York City Department ofSanitation issued a "snow alert" starting Sunday afternoon, andwas preparing salt spreaders and plows to clear covered roads.

An expected 1 to 3 inches of snowfall in Philadelphia andNew York City would be the first of the season, and comes about10 days earlier than the average first snowfall, according tothe National Weather Service.

2,500 FLIGHTS CANCELED

Professional football games went ahead but several playerswere injured by slipping on the slick fields.

Snow covered the ground and stands at Baltimore's M&TStadium, where the Baltimore Ravens played the Minnesota Vikingsin driving wind and 25-degree Fahrenheit (minus 4 Celsius)conditions. The Philadelphia Eagles beat the Detroit Lions innear white-out conditions.

The blast of cold air and precipitation also brought lightsnowfall to the Midwest, including parts of Illinois, Iowa andWisconsin.

A number of traffic accidents were reported onMilwaukee-area roads and freeways, including a pileup of as manyas 20 cars that shut down a highway in Racine County. In aseparate crash, one person was killed after a vehicle flippedover along a slick road, the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Officesaid.

In Arizona, about 300 vehicles were stuck overnight Saturday to Sunday on a mountainous, 30-mile stretch ofInterstate 15 in northwestern Arizona after heavy snow and icyconditions led to a chain-reaction crash set off by multiplejack-knifing semi-trailer trucks, said Bart Graves, spokesmanfor the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

No one was hurt, despite multiple vehicles crashing intoeach other or skidding off the road, Graves said. More than2,500 flights were canceled nationwide on Sunday, according totracking website Flightaware.com. Airports in Newark, NewJersey, New York City, and Philadelphia reported delays.

More than 2,000 stranded passengers slept on cots and inchairs at the Dallas-Ft. Worth airport Saturday night, down fromabout 4,000 the night before, said spokesman David Magana.

Sunday evening, more than 1,000 passengers planned to stayovernight at the airport, Magana said. Airport officialsprovided tents for families with small children, as well asmusicians, comedians, face-painters and balloon artists to amusethe stuck passengers, he said.

More than 400 scheduled Dallas-Ft. Worth departures werecanceled by mid-afternoon on Sunday, he said.

North Texas was still shivering under below-freezingtemperatures left behind after an ice storm knocked out powerlines, leaving some 267,000 customers in without power at theheight of the storm, according to utility provider Oncor.

The storm also battered Arkansas and Tennessee with ice,snow and zero-degree temperatures, leaving streets a slick andslushy danger zone. At least three people were killed when theircars skidded off the road, authorities said.

As many as 7,000 people in Tennessee were still withoutpower Sunday. "For some of our customers it may take a couple ofdays to get their power back," said Rob Fisher, director ofEmergency Management for Dickson County.

The Arctic chill from the storm was so widespread thatWestern states, including Nevada, Washington and California,were slammed with snow, sleet and record-setting coldtemperatures, according to the National Weather Service.

Temperatures in Jordan, Montana, fell to a record low of 42degrees Fahrenheit below zero (minus 41 degrees Celsius) on Dec.7, also the lowest temperature recorded for the country duringthe storm.

The cold weather system will leave the East Coast on Monday,the National Weather Service said.

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