Millions of Americans find themselves in the path of a strong winter storm, which began to hit the Midwest on Friday.
Heavy snowfall in the region led to school closures or changed instruction and worsened travel conditions.
Southwest Airlines warned of potential cancellations, diversions and flight delays on Friday and Saturday at airports in St. Louis, the Twin Cities, Kansas City, Missouri, Des Moines and Omaha.
The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a winter storm warning for parts of Minnesota, the Dakotas, Iowa and Illinois, where forecasters were counting as high as 10 inches.
WINTER STORM TO BRING FRILL RAIN, ICE, SNOW POTENTIAL TO THE FLATS AND MIDWEST
Motorists reported that roads on Interstate 94 in North Dakota had ice and snow.
The storm system is expected to move through the Mid-Mississippi Valley to the southeast on Monday and then along the east coast.
In South Carolina, shoppers scoured storm boards for storm supplies, and Governor Henry McMaster issued a distress warrant.
“South Carolina will be hit by a major winter storm this weekend, likely to begin Sunday morning,” the governor said in a statement. “There is a potential for very dangerous conditions caused by ice and snow build-up which will likely result in statewide power outages. I urge South Carolinaians to monitor their local weather forecasts and take safety precautions We will be holding a media briefing tomorrow afternoon to update residents with the latest information on this winter storm.”
The NWS said 2 to 5 inches of snow could fall into northeast Georgia as of Saturday night from Sunday, with ice and wind gusts up to 35 mph, exacerbating the threat of power outages and precarious travel conditions. Snow accumulations can reach up to 8 inches at the highest elevations.
Winter storm watches were posted for Saturday in Georgia, South Carolina and Mississippi.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, who also declared a state of emergency late Friday said the state was preparing “to the utmost.”
Parts of Tennessee could see up to 6 inches of snow, and northern Mississippi and the Tennessee Valley region of Alabama were able to catch light snow accumulations.
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North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper signed a state of emergency on Friday and the government urged people to stay at home after the storm hit.
“This storm will have significant effects from snow, sleet and icy rain in several parts of the state, with likely power outages and travel disruptions,” he said in a statement. “North Carolinians should pay close attention to their local weather forecast for the next few days and make sure they are personally prepared for Saturday afternoon.”
The North Carolina Department of Transportation warned that staff shortages meant crews may not respond to problem areas as quickly as normal.
Farther north, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency and urged residents to take the storm seriously.
Virginia state police warned people to avoid traveling on weekends — just days after a previous snowstorm trapped thousands of motorists on a section of Interstate 95.
The storm is likely to bring snow, sleet, ice and sleet across much of the state and up to 12 inches of snow is forecast in parts of southwestern Virginia.
The Virginia National Guard warned Friday of possible storm response and planned to deploy 60 soldiers along the Interstate 81 and Route 460 corridors.
Bitterly cold weather settled in the northeast before the storm.
The NWS said the storm will move from the southeast to the northern mid-Atlantic, with showers and freezing rain developing over the region and southern Appalachians overnight Saturday.
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On Sunday, the agency wrote that heavy snow will develop in parts of the central and southern Appalachians and the Mid-Atlantic, as well as “significant areas” of rain and icy rain.
Snow is forecast to move to parts of the lower Great Lakes and Ohio Valley, with rain and icy rain shifting to the north mid-Atlantic.
“Meanwhile, a border across central Canada will shift to the upper Midwest by Sunday. The system will produce light snow over parts of the upper Mississippi Valley and the upper Great Lakes before Sunday and begin to decrease Monday morning. Snow will result. in reduced visibility and dangerous driving conditions,” the NWS added.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.