The snow-covered tracks of Union Station in Washington, during a winter storm, on January 16, 2022 (AFP / Stefani Reynolds)
Millions of Americans were sheltered Monday after the outbreak of a major winter storm that hit the eastern United States with its share of snow and ice, causing power outages as well as disruptions in road and air transport.
“A major winter storm will hit the eastern United States between Sunday and Monday,” the National Weather Service (NWS) warned, indicating that up to 30 centimeters of snow could cover an area that extends from Tennessee and Georgia. , in the Southeast, in Vermont and in New York State, in the Northeast, accompanied by strong winds and freezing rain. Winds could reach hurricane force on the Atlantic coast, the NWS warned.
Several states reported traffic disruptions in the evening.
Thousands of flights have been canceled and part of Interstate I95 closed in North Carolina.
Motorists have been warned of “hazardous road conditions” and heavy traffic from Arkansas (south) to Maine (northeast).
“Arctic air already in place in the central and eastern United States will combine with this dynamic system to create a thick layer of more than 30 centimeters of snow”, according to the NWS, which forecasts along the Appalachian Mountain Range snowfall of 2.5 cm per hour on Monday and freezing conditions on Tuesday.
Florida (southeast), more accustomed to good weather even at this time of year, was indirectly affected when several tornadoes accompanied by snow, caused by this winter storm caused property damage and caused coastal flooding on Sunday , according to the Weather Channel.
A snowplow on a street in Washington during a winter storm, January 16, 2022 (AFP / Stefani Reynolds)
From North and South Carolina up the Appalachians, ice and gusty winds complicate the situation.
The winter weather alert affects more than 80 million people, according to US media. Some 3,000 domestic or international flights were canceled by mid-afternoon on Sunday, according to the FlightAware website, and around 4,200 were delayed.
– Emergency state –
Power outages affected up to 235,000 people in the Southeast, including more than 150,000 in the Carolinas, according to the PowerOutage.us website, but power appeared to be restored in several areas in the evening, causing the number of people without electricity at less than 145,000.
Pedestrians on the National Mall in Washington during a winter storm on January 16, 2022 (AFP / Stefani Reynolds)
In Georgia, another state among the most affected, Governor Brian Kemp had declared a state of emergency on Friday, and snowplows were at work before noon to clear the roads. Mild Atlanta has seen snowfall.
Virginia and North Carolina have also declared states of emergency. More than 30 cm of snow fell on the latter state, according to the weather channel.
Virginia police announced on Twitter several minor traffic accidents and the stoppage of traffic on a major highway in the south of the state.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper confirmed on Twitter that up to 30cm of snow had fallen in some areas by midday and that “heavy icing was causing problems in the center of the ‘State’, while calling on the population to stay sheltered and avoid travel if possible.
A child plays in the snow in Washington, during a winter storm, January 16, 2022 (AFP / Stefani Reynolds)
In this same state, students experienced a big scare with the collapse of the roof of a university residence, according to the local channel ABC, an incident which did not cause any injuries. “It was very scary,” Brevard College student Melody Ferguson told the channel, “I’m still shaking.”
The northeastern United States had already found snow in early January, covered with a white coat up to 30 cm thick. Hundreds of motorists had been stranded for nearly 20 hours on a major axis linking the capital Washington.
The storm is expected to reach eastern Canada on Tuesday, the NWS estimates.