Power outages, flight cancellations, thundersnow: Brutal snow, ice storm slams South – USA TODAY

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  • Hundreds of thousands of homes were without power in the Southeast.
  • Almost 5,000 flights into, out of and within the U.S. had been canceled or delayed.
  • Shoccoe, Mississippi, woke up to inches of snow.

The entire eastern United States was under a weather siege Sunday as a furious winter storm packing heavy snow, ice, gale-force winds and tornadoes rolled out of the Midwest and continued its unforgiving march across the nation.

Almost 250,000 homes and businesses were dark in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida. Almost 5,000 flights into, out of and within the U.S. had been canceled or delayed as of 3 p.m., according to the tracking website flightaware.com.

The impact of the storm was varying greatly from neighborhood to neighborhood. Jackson, Mississippi, saw trace amounts of snow early Sunday while just 25 miles to the northeast the hamlet of Goshen Springs was blasted by more than 8 inches.

Southern cities were on alert. Nashville could get 3 inches of snow, parts of the state a foot. A tractor-trailer crash near the Tennessee River closed I-40 eastbound in Humphreys County. The Tennessee Highway Patrol reported a the backup stretching for several miles. 

The streets of Charlotte, North Carolina, were covered early Sunday, and the National Weather Service called for snow accumulations of 2 to 7 inches in some parts of the state.

“Power outages and tree damage are likely due to the ice,” the weather service warned. “Travel could be nearly impossible.”

Thundersnow was reported near Waynesville, North Carolina. Accuweather said a strike of lightning was detected during heavy snowfall. Thundersnow is unusual but typically happens in strong snowstorms, Accuweather said. Some of the state was blanketed in a foot of snow. Col. Freddy Johnson Jr., commander of the North Carolina Highway Patrol, said that by late morning, the agency had responded to 200 car crashes and 460 calls for service.

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Elsewhere, 1 to 4 inches of sleet, snow and ice was forecast for the Atlanta area as well as other parts of Georgia and South Carolina.

“Hopefully, the storm will underdeliver, but it could overdeliver. We just don’t know,” said Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who declared a state of emergency.

In southwestern Florida, rolling tornado warnings were being issued. A truck driver suffered minor injuries when a tornado crossed Interstate 75 near Naples and toppled his truck, the Florida Highway Patrol said on Twitter.

“Please seek shelter and stay safe!!” the tweet urged.

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The storm, dubbed a “Saskatchewan screamer” because it originated in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, left over a foot of snow in Des Moines, Iowa, over the weekend. The Ozarks town of Canaan in Arkansas also saw a foot of snow.

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The storm was expected to head into the Northeast while dropping snow, sleet and rain around the densely populated Eastern Seaboard. Washington, D.C., was forecast to see up to 3 inches of snow followed by a round of ice. Parts of the metro area already saw more snow in one week this month than in the last two years.

Parts of Western Pennsylvania could get a foot of snow, forecasters said. And officials across New England warned residents to stay indoors on Saturday as a blast of Arctic air drives wind chill temperatures as low as minus 35 degrees

Contributing: The Associated Press