Snow Blankets Central East Coast, Washington State
Undated (AP) _ More than a foot of snow fell Saturday over parts of the Northwest and the middle Atlantic Coast, canceling airline flights, closing one highway with an avalanche and shutting down weekend sporting events.
Elsewhere, rivers flooded by five days of rain slowly receded in Kentucky and Tennessee, where hundreds of people were evacuated from their homes.
At least 15 traffic deaths were blamed on stormy weather beginning Friday.
By midday, up to 14 inches of snow had fallen on northern North Carolina in Warren and Stokes counties, and at historic Williamsburg, Va., the National Weather Service said. Norfolk, Va., had 11.2 inches, second highest on record there for February. In the Northwest, Spokane, Wash., had 13 inches.
Sleet and freezing rain coated other parts of Virginia and the Carolinas with ice, and scattered power outages were reported in upstate South Carolina, the weather service said. About 23,000 people lost power in North Carolina, Duke Power Co. officials said.
Despite about a foot of snow, Patrick Henry Airport at Newport News, Va., remained technically open although all airlines operating at the airport canceled their flights, said executive director Peter Daikos.
″I would suspect we had 200 people stranded,″ Daikos said.
Elsewhere in Virginia, Saturday classes at Norfolk State University were canceled, said school spokesman Gerald Tyler, and a number of college basketball games were postponed.
″The roads in the southern half of the state are pretty bad,″ said state police Sgt. N.W. Hampton in Richmond. ″It’s still snowing and they’re covered with snow.″
The snow and icy roads in North Carolina arrived just two days after the state basked in 80-degree weather. Schools across the state closed early Friday.
″Wrecks are coming in from every which direction, and my rescue crews tell me that roads are really slick out there,″ said Bobby Norville, an emergency communications dispatcher in Pitt County.
Most North Carolina ski resorts had to close in the past two weeks, but the return of cold air Friday meant snow-making machinery could run full blast.
Duke Power sent 200 extra workers to help local repair crews working to reconnect power lines torn down by ice or falling tree limbs, said spokeswoman Anne Sheffield. She had no estimate of when power would be restored.
Steady snow fell Saturday on the eastern two-thirds of Washington state as the most severe snowstorm to hit the state this winter slowed traffic to a crawl.
U.S. 2 near Stevens Pass, Wash., was closed for about two hours during the night after an avalanche dumped about 4 feet of snow over the highway. Hours earlier, at least 35 cars were involved in a pile-up in blinding snow on Interstate 90 about five miles east of North Bend.
Up to 9 inches of snow fell at higher elevations of eastern Tennessee, attracting thousands to the mountain resort town of Gatlinburg.
″The town is booked pretty well solid since it’s a three-day holiday weekend,″ said Jim Ahrends, a salesman for the Ober Gatlinburg Ski Resort.
″We were kind of looking forward to having snow. We woke up this morning and there it was,″ said Tami Saade, 28, of Atlanta, who spent part of Saturday afternoon sipping brandied coffee with a friend by a fire in the resort lounge.
In western Tennessee, Tennessee Emergency Management Agency workers were in Obion County assessing the damage caused by flooding there earlier in the week. After five days of rain, Saturday was dry.
Nearly 400 people were forced from their homes when the Obion River spilled over its banks in the heart of the Tennessee wheat belt.
The first estimates by federal officials pegged Kentucky’s flood damage at $22 million, but the Army’s top engineer, Robert W. Page, assistant secretary of the Army for civil works, said Saturday that was ″only the tip of the iceberg.″
Five shelters remained open around Kentucky, housing 142 people, said spokesman Don Armstrong of the state Division of Disaster and Emergency Services, and 184 state-maintained roads in 54 counties remained blocked by high water.
The Kentucky River at Frankfort had dropped 4 feet since cresting Friday at 44.2 feet - 13.2 feet above flood stage.
Streams in southern Ohio also receded after flash flooding.
A rain-slickened highway in Texas was blamed for an accident in which a bus rolled over and killed four people and injured 20. And three traffic deaths in Washington state and four in North Carolina were blamed on the snow. Four members of one family died Friday in Texas when their van plunged into a swollen stream. Snow sent a school bus sliding down an embankment Friday in North Carolina but no injuries were reported..