Snowdrifts in North Carolina. Icy roads in Oklahoma. Submerged cars in Houston.
A heavy bout of rain and wintry weather is pummeling parts of the USA, and more severe winter weather is on its way, threatening a wide swath of the country, from the Carolinas to Texas.
The same winter storm that dumped heavy rains on Los Angeles last week is continuing to unleash heavy snows and ice this weekend as it tracks from the southern Plains into the Southeast. Widespread power outages, delayed and canceled flights and dangerous roads are expected to continue through Monday morning when the strong storm is expected to move northeastward over the Atlantic Ocean, according to the National Weather Service.
The most critical threats are the expected snow accumulations and likely travel hazards from the southern Appalachians into parts of the Carolinas and southern Virginia, according to a statement from the weather prediction center.
Governors in Virginia and North Carolina declared emergencies ahead in anticipation of the storm.
“It’s certainly not unprecedented but it’s a major storm,” said Dave Samuhel, a meteorologist with AccuWeather. “It’s going to have a big impact.”
Asheville, N.C., is expected to bear a large brunt of the storm, with up to two feet falling around much of the region this weekend, followed by treacherous and icy conditions early next week. The eastern corner of Jackson County along the Blue Ridge Parkway to Mount Pisgah should see the highest amounts of snowfall, drawing close to two feet.
In a clear sign that harsh weather may be on its way, Jim Cantore, the intrepid Weather Channel correspondent at the forefront of dangerous storms, has deployed to Boone, N.C., around 90 miles northeast of Asheville.
“I think when people wake up tomorrow morning, they’re going to be staying right where they are,” Cantore said in an interview with Boone Town Manager John Ward. “I think it’s going to be — forgive the word — puking snow outside.”
Emergency officials were bringing in extra staff and cautiously monitoring whether ice accumulates under all the snow, making travel increasingly dangerous.
“If we do, that’s going to make it treacherous to get around,” said Jerry VeHaun, director of Buncombe County Emergency Services, which covers Asheville. “But we’re just watching the weather and making sure we’re ready to react whichever way we need to.”
As of Saturday evening, there were 2,832 delayed and 358 canceled flights across the USA, according to FlightStats.com. Charlotte Douglas International Airports had the highest number of canceled flights with 106. George Bush International Airport in Houston reported 193 delayed flights.
American Airlines, United, Southwest, Delta and Frontier have begun waving ticket change fees for some weekend flights in anticipation for the storm.