Durham - Snow and sleet are pounding a large swath of the US East Coast, coating roads with ice and causing hundreds of crashes. Thousands of people in North Carolina lost power and forecasters warned of blizzard-like conditions from Virginia to parts of the Northeast.
Police investigated several fatal crashes as potentially storm-related, but some of the South's biggest cities — Atlanta, Charlotte and Raleigh — appeared to avoid the worst of the storm. Authorities praised residents for learning the lessons of past storms that resulted in icy gridlock, where thousands of people were stranded along the interstates. But officials warned that bitter cold would keep roads treacherous well after the snow and sleet stopped.
"If I tell you anything it would be stay home," North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said. "Do not go out and drive on the roads unless you absolutely have to."
The storm lingered in northeastern North Carolina and southeastern Virginia, where blizzard conditions were reported. The weather was believed to be responsible for a 20-vehicle pile-up on a Connecticut highway, although initial reports indicated there were no serious injuries.
A National Weather Service map showed the snowfall seemed to follow the Interstate 85 corridor through the state, with locations along and north of the highway receiving snow and areas to the south getting rain and sleet.
Snowfall totals reached up to25cm in at least seven North Carolina locations, including Greensboro and High Point, Lewisville in Forsyth County and Lenoir and Rhodhiss in Caldwell County, according to preliminary figures from the National Weather Service.
Nearly a metre of snow fell in parts of eastern Virginia, according to the National Weather Service and a blizzard warning was issued for the cities along the coast.
North Carolina reported more than 700 crashes, while Virginia State Police said they responded to 500 crashes. Parts of three interstates in Mississippi were gridlocked by icy conditions. Hundreds of flights were canceled, from Atlanta to airports farther north.