Coast to coast storm impacts millions across the United States

Dangerous icing and heavy snow continues for parts of the east coast.

    Two men prepare to pull a vehicle out of the snow in Charlotte, North Carolina [Sean Rayford/Getty Images]
    Two men prepare to pull a vehicle out of the snow in Charlotte, North Carolina [Sean Rayford/Getty Images]

    In just five days, one storm has affected every southern US state from California eastward to Virginia, affecting millions of people in its path. 

    On Thursday, the storm came onshore and brought heavy snow across the Sierra and rain to the southern part of California, which was recently affected by wildfires. 

    Although the heavy snow in the mountains will mean more fresh water in the spring, the rain in southern California brought flash floods and debris flows. Thousands were evacuated due to flowing mud and rocks.

    As the storm crossed the Rockies, it brought snow to the higher elevations of the southwest, but it was northern Texas that saw near-record-breaking amounts.

    In the town of Lubbock, Texas, 26.6cm of snow fell, making it the second snowiest day on record. The heavy snow was responsible for major traffic slowdowns and accidents.

    Arkansas, Oklahoma and Missouri began to see snow and ice arrive overnight on Friday into Saturday. Before the storm even arrived, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin declared a state of emergency for all 77 counties.

    In the southern part of Texas, as well as in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, it was warm enough for the storm to bring flooding rains in some parts of those states. Dozens of cities reported over 55mm of rain causing local flooding as water rose in streams and creeks and accumulated in lower lying areas. Monroe, Louisiana, picked up 96mm of rain by Saturday.

    The storm also meant flight cancellations. Major airports such as Dallas, Houston, Nashville, Atlanta and Charlotte began limiting flights over the weekend. On Saturday there were more than 3,100 flight delays and cancellations. On Sunday, that number rose to more than 4,900.

    Also on Sunday, the storm moved into the Atlantic Seaboard. North Carolina's governor had already put the state under an early state of emergency in advance of the heavy snow that is expected.

    South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia saw the snow by early on Monday morning. Particularly hard hit was the western part of those states where the elevation is much higher than the eastern coastal plains. Snow totals of more than 48cm meant that many of the roads and highways across the Appalachian Mountains were closed.

    At a news conference on Sunday, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said Highway 70 remained closed after a semitrailer truck ran off the road and into the Neuse River early that day. Divers were still looking for the driver Sunday evening.

    Later on Sunday, snow began turning to freezing rain, causing hundreds of power lines to come down. By late Sunday night more than 380,000 residents of South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia were without power.

    The winter weather will continue on Monday with a combination of more snow and ice expected. North Carolina is expected to be the worst hit. By Tuesday morning, the dangerous weather will begin to pull out into the Atlantic leaving many in the east with much more settled weather.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies