A winter storm that swept through the East Coast left more than 118,000 people without power across five states as of Monday morning.
Snow and ice affected southern areas unaccustomed to such inclement weather, including northern parts of Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia, as well as the Carolinas, which suffered some of the heaviest snowfall in their western areas.
Authorities in North Carolina said two people were killed in a car accident and troopers responded to more than 600 car crashes on Sunday.
Thirteen inches were reported in Boone, N.C., and 8 inches in Spartanburg, S.C. Asheville, N.C, received 10 inches, on its snowiest day in almost five years.
In parts of the interior Carolinas, the snow switched to freezing rain, leaving behind a treacherous glaze up to a half an inch thick that triggered ice storm warnings.
In a statement Sunday, Cooper warned residents to stay off the roads to avoid car accidents or getting stranded.
“Fewer people on the road means fewer car crashes, plus it allows highway crews and utility workers to get faster results,” he said, adding that more than 90,000 homes and businesses statewide were reported without power across the state Sunday afternoon, with outages continuing to increase.
Derrec Becker, spokesperson for the South Carolina’s Emergency Management Division, said Monday there were no reports of storm-related deaths, but confirmed several traffic incidents with injured people sent to the hospital.
Dozens of service members from the South Carolina National Guard continued to assist stranded motorists in snowed-in roads Monday morning.
Overall, snowfall was heaviest along the Appalachians and in the interior northeast while mild winds off the ocean turned the snow to ice and then rain closer to the Interstate 95 corridor. D.C. received 2.6 inches before transitioning to ice and rain while New York City only registered 0.8 inches
Snowfall reports received as of 10 am Monday. Highest snowfall totals by state so far (1 of 2):— NWS Eastern Region (@NWSEastern) January 17, 2022
OH - Harpersfield 22.5"
NY - Grand Island 22"
NC - Banner Elk 20"
PA - Cherry Hill 16"
WV - Marlinton 14"
MD - McHenry 12"
TN - Gatlinburg 11.2"
VA - Sugar Grove 11"
MA - East Otis 10" pic.twitter.com/eehGXwK1Jx
Across the state of New York, however, winter storm warnings were in effect, as well as coastal flooding warnings on Monday. The office of Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) warned that snow could fall at a rate of up to 3 inches an hour in parts of the state while the combination of heavy snow, ice, rain and strong winds “will cause difficult travel conditions and the potential for power outages” from Sunday evening through Monday afternoon.
To the west, over a foot of snow fell in parts of West Virginia, eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania. Buffalo was walloped by 16 inches of snow Sunday night and remained under a winter storm warning for 3 to 5 additional inches on Monday, along with wind gusts to 45 mph.
The storm also whipped up roaring winds that gusted to around 60 mph near Interstate 95 through the Northeast. Washington Dulles International Airport gusted to 58 mph Sunday night while gusts of around 60 mph were clocked from coastal New Jersey to Boston early Monday. High wind warnings and wind advisories were in effect for more than 30 million people in the eastern United States Monday from Georgia to coastal Maine.
And further south, at least five tornadoes touched down in southwest Florida.
In Fort Myers, an EF2 tornado destroyed 108 mobile homes in three separate neighborhoods on its brief rampage. Three people were injured.
Traveling 1.8 miles in five minutes, it was the strongest to spin up in the Florida peninsula since Dec. 16, 2020, when an EF2 tore through Ulmerton in Pinellas County, causing $16 million in damage.
“We get those, they're not very common, but they are possible with the passing storms that come through,” said Rodney Wynn, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Tampa Bay.
“It moved in from the Gulf. We had a marine warning out for waterspouts. As soon as it came ashore, we put out the tornado warning for it,” he added.
Annabelle Timsit contributed to this report.