A huge winter storm spreading snow, sleet and freezing rain is taking aim at millions of people across a wide swath of the South as more than 300,000 are left without power and 1,500 flights are canceled.
Governors and local officials in several states declared emergencies ahead of winter storm Diego, freeing up funds and manpower to help mitigate its effect as the threat of immobilizing snowfalls, icy roads and possible power outages increased.
The National Weather Service said a ‘prolonged period of snow is expected’ starting Saturday and lasting until Monday, with the heaviest snow expected in northwest North Carolina and southern Virginia.
A huge winter storm spreading snow, sleet and freezing rain is taking aim at millions of people across a wide swath of the South, including Durham in North Carolina (above)
More than 10 inches of snow was dumped on Lubbock, Texas (pictured above) on Saturday – one of the highest snowfalls on record
Forecasters have said some mountainous areas of North Carolina could get up to 12 inches of snow or more.
Heavy rains were expected elsewhere in other parts of the South, creating possible floods in coastal areas.
More than 10 inches of snow was dumped on Lubbock, Texas on Saturday – one of the highest snowfalls on record.
Meanwhile heavy rains caused flooding in parts of Houston.
States of emergency were declared in Virginia, North Carolina and Oklahoma ahead of the storm.
Josie, an English Retriever plays in the snow as her owners, Dawn and Mark Lundblad walk a snow-covered Sandy Cove Drive in Morganton, N.C, on Sunday
Nathan Fontanella pushes his sled down a street in Greensboro, North Carolina on Sunday
The amount of snow dumped on Lubbock on Saturday made it the second snowiest day on record in December for the Texas town
Cars move slowly on a snowy Durham, North Carolina street after several inches fell on Sunday
A Duke Energy crew works to restore power in Raleigh, N.C,. as snow continued to fall Sunday morning
Tervante Wilkerson trudges through blowing snow up Old NC 98 in Wake Forest, North Carolina, on Sunday
Snow plows try to clear a road in Greensboro, North Carolina on Sunday after a massive storm brought snow, sleet, and freezing rain across a wide swath of the South
Joslyn Fontanella, 8, takes a break from shoveling a walkway to taste some snow in Greensboro, North Carolina on Sunday
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said Saturday that residents in the some parts of the state should be ready for a lengthy fight with the storm, which was beginning to dump sleet and snow across its western mountain areas Saturday night.
‘We’re preparing for days of impact, not hours,’ Cooper said, urging caution.
‘This weekend isn’t the time to head out to see the winter wonderland. Stay safe where you are. Getting out on dangerous roads could put your life at risk.’
Officials have warned residents to prepare emergency kits and staff off roads in impacted areas.
‘Virginians should take all necessary precautions to ensure they are prepared for winter weather storm impacts,’ said Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam.
Meanwhile heavy rains caused flooding in parts of Houston. Heavy rains were also expected elsewhere in other parts of the South, creating possible floods in coastal areas
A car was left stranded in Houston, Texas due to heavy rainfall on Saturday night
North Carolina’s largest electric utility, Duke Energy, has said there there could be more than 500,000 power outages.
Charlotte Douglas International Airport, the sixth busiest airport in the country, said American Airlines would reduce its operations starting Saturday evening and scattered cancellations are expected through Monday morning.
Travelers were advised to check their flight status before heading to the airport. Cancellations were reported on flights from as far as the Midwest.
Signs of a pending monster snow fall were prevalent.
Traffic crews have been busy treating roads ahead of the storm. Amtrak has canceled or modified some routes because of the storm. A number of hardware stores sold out of ice melt.