Deadly winter storm paralyzes South, roars up East Coast

1:34 PM, Feb 13, 2014   |    comments
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Video: Snow and ice paralyze the Southeast

Kevin Miller looks out of the passenger window of his friend's car as they sit in stuck traffic during a winter storm Wednesday Feb. 12, 2014, in Raleigh, N.C. SCOTT SHARPE, THE NEWS & OBSERVER/AP

 


 


PHILADELPHIA (CBS NEWS) -- The latest storm to roll off nature's assembly line during this bustling winter spread heavy snow and sleet along the Northeast corridor Thursday, while utility crews in the ice-encrusted South labored to restore power to hundreds of thousands of shivering residents.

The storm shuttered schools and businesses, made driving scary, grounded thousands of flights and made more back-breaking work for people along the East Coast, where shoveling out has become a weekly chore - sometimes a twice-weekly one.

"Snow has become a four-letter word in Delaware County and all along the East Coast this winter," said Tom McGarrigle, chairman of the Delaware County Council, in suburban Philadelphia.

Baltimore awoke to 15 inches of snow. Washington, D.C., had at least 11, and federal offices and the city's two main airports were closed.

Philadelphia had nearly 9 inches by early morning, making it the fourth 6-inch snowstorm of the season - the first time that has happened in the city's history. Harrisburg, Pa., had at least 8 inches.

Winter storm warnings were issued for much of the Eastern Seaboard, including Georgia, where an ice storm warning remained in place. Up to 14 inches was possible in northwest New Jersey, and New York City and its suburbs could get 8 to 12 inches. Up to 18 inches of snow was forecast for central and western Massachusetts, and Portland, Maine, could see 8 or 9 inches.

More than 800,000 homes and businesses lacked power in several Southeastern states on Thursday morning. Power companies in the Northeast were preparing for outages.

At least 14 deaths, most of them in traffic accidents, were blamed on the storm as it made its way across the South and up the coast. The victims included a truck driver in Ashburn, Va., who was working to clear snowy roads. He had pulled off the road and was standing behind his vehicle when he was hit by a dump truck.

More than 5,200 flights were canceled across the country, according to the website FlightAware. Amtrak canceled some of its trains and modified schedules for others. Acela Express trains between Washington and Boston and Northeast Regional trains between Boston and Norfolk, Va., were operating at reduced frequency or modified schedules.

Across the South, the storm left in its wake a world of ice-encrusted trees and driveways and snapped branches and power lines.

More than 200,000 homes and businesses in the Atlanta area alone were waiting for the electricity to come back on. Temperatures were expected to drop below freezing again overnight.

In North Carolina, where the storm caused huge traffic jams in the Raleigh area on Wednesday as people left work and rushed to get home in the middle of the day, National Guardsmen in high-riding Humvees patrolled the snowy roads, looking for stranded motorists.

CBS News correspondent Wyatt Andrews reports from Raleigh that state troopers responded to more than 2,000 accidents, with one car even bursting into flames.

Daniel Smith found shelter at the Midway Baptist Church after his car got stuck on an icy hill.

"It was something out of like a zombie movie or something, all these abandoned cars on the side of the road," Smith told Andrews.

Like many, Smith had heard all of the warnings, but the speed and the power of the storm caught him by surprise.

"We knew the forecast," said Smith. "We knew it was going to be bad, but we thought, you know, once it starts to come down we'll head home and be fine."

State Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry said there was no way to estimate how many were stuck in their vehicles.

Some roads around Raleigh remained clogged with abandoned vehicles Thursday morning. City crews were working to tow the vehicles to safe areas where their owners could recover them.

The procession of storms and cold blasts - blamed in part on a kink in the jet stream, the high-altitude air currents that dictate weather - has cut into retail sales across the U.S., the Commerce Department reported Thursday. Sales dipped 0.4 percent in January.

Many cities are seeing their supplies of road salt dwindling fast, and school systems have run out of school days.

In New Cumberland, Pa., Randal DeIvernois had to take a rest after shoveling his driveway. His snowblower had conked out.

"Every time it snows it's like, oh, not again," he said. "I didn't get this much snow when I lived in Colorado. It's warmer at the Olympics than it is here. That's ridiculous."

The sloppy and dangerous weather threatened to disrupt deliveries of Valentine's Day flowers.

"It's a godawful thing," said Mike Flood, owner of Falls Church Florist in Virginia. "We're going to lose money, there's no doubt about it."

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