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Winter Storm Diego’s Latest: Nearly 400,000 without power, 1,400+ flights cancelled

Wide swaths of the Carolinas, Georgia and Tennessee woke up to power outages Sunday morning as Winter Storm Diego continued to dump snow and ice across the Southeast. Later in the day, the snow started falling in parts of Virginia.

One person was killed when a tree fell on a car Sunday afternoon in Matthews, North Carolina, Officer Tim Aycock, a spokesman for the police department told weather.com.

As of 4:30 p.m. EST,  212,000 customers had no electricity in North Carolina, according to PowerOutage.us. Over 91,000 were cut off in South Carolina, 13,000 in northeastern Georgia and more than 16,000 in Tennessee. About 36,000 customers lost power in Virginia. At one point Sunday the total number exceeded 400,000.

Hundreds of Sunday morning church services were canceled because of the ice and snow, and many districts announced schools would be closed on Monday.

More than 1,700 flights were canceled on Sunday, according to flightaware.com. More than 1,100 of those were at Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

Gov. Roy Cooper earlier had warned residents that now is “the time to hunker down” and prepare for the worst of Winter Storm Diego, which dumped more than 10 inches of snow on Texas Saturday.

“This is a snowstorm, not a snow fall. It’s serious,” Gov. Cooper said Saturday during a press conference. “In the Piedmont to western parts of our state, we’re preparing for days of impact, not hours.”

Cooper’s warning came a day after he declared a state of emergency for all of North Carolina’s 100 counties. States of emergency have also been declared in Virginia and Oklahoma.

Virginia

By noon Sunday, Virginia State Police had responded to 65 traffic crashes because of the snow, the Richmond Times Dispatch reported. Chesterfield County police reported 18 accidents and 10 disabled vehicles, and Henrico County officials had seen about 24 accidents.

Police in Prince George County warned drivers that the roads were hazardous. The sheriff’s office in Fluvanna County said U.S. 15 was backed up because of multiple accidents, and 10 cars were involved in an accident on Union Mills Road.

A tree fell across Interstate 64 at Virginia 155 in New Kent County.

Colonial Williamsburg closed at 3:30 p.m. because of the storm.

Gov. Ralph Northam had declared a state of emergency Saturday and urged residents to prepare for the possibility of a wintry mix of snow, sleet, ice and rain over parts of western, central and northern Virginia.

“Virginians should take all necessary precautions to ensure they are prepared for winter weather storm impacts,” said Northam. “I am declaring a state of emergency to ensure localities and communities have appropriate assistance and to coordinate state response to possible snow and ice accumulations, transportation issues, and potential power outages.”

Northam noted that he has placed state agencies, including the Virginia Departments of Transportation and Emergency Management, and State Police, on alert.

North Carolina

Interstate 26 was closed overnight in both directions at the steep Saluda Grade after several semitractor trailers got stuck in the roadway, North Carolina’s Department of Transportation said. The interstate reopened about 5:30 a.m.

At a news conference Sunday, Gov. Cooper said part of U.S. 70 was closed after a semitrailer truck ran off the road and into the Neuse River near Kinston about 4 a.m. Sunday. WRAL reported that divers were looking for the truck driver all day Sunday.

Many other state and county roads were iced or snowed over in much of North Carolina.

Cooper said 11 shelters had been opened, most of them in the western part of the state.

Col. Glenn M. McNeill, commander of the State Highway Patrol, said troopers had responded to 509 collisions and 1,100 service calls since midnight Saturday.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill announced that classes were canceled for Monday, and exams have been postponed.

Many county and municipal governments said their offices would be closed Monday, as well. The North Carolina Zoo closed Sunday and said it would be closed through Tuesday.

Tennessee

Freezing rain led to ice accumulating on bridges and overpasses near Clarksville, Tennessee, overnight.

South Carolina

Ice was the problem in the Upstate of South Carolina on Sunday morning.

Crews in Spartanburg County were on the road before the sun rose to begin repairing hundreds of downed power lines, the Spartanburg Herald-Journal reported.

Doug Bryson, the county emergency management coordinator, “It’s been nonstop for several hours now.”

Dozens of cars were stranded along roadways, the Highway Patrol said.

Oklahoma

More than 10 inches of snow fell on parts of Oklahoma overnight Friday into Saturday, leading to limited traffic issues.

Ahead of the storm, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin declared a state of emergency for all 77 of the state’s counties.

Arkansas

Schools in Bentonville canceled all athletic and extra-curricular events scheduled for Saturday because of the possibility of icy conditions.

The Bentonville Christmas Parade, which was also scheduled for Saturday, has been moved to Dec. 15, KFSM-TV reported.

The station also said Fayetteville School District said the basketball tournament games scheduled for Saturday have been canceled.

Texas

Winter storm Diego dumped at least 10.5 inches of snow on Lubbock, making it the second-snowiest December day on record in the Panhandle city.

“That gets relevant when you realize the historical, monthly record for Lubbock in December is 11 inches. That is significant,” Lubbock City Manager Jarrett Atkinson said.

The heavy snow contributed to some slide-offs and traffic issues, but the Lubbock Police Department said that “there were fewer traffic problems than expected.”

But the National Weather Service warned that the snow would refreeze overnight, leading to treacherous icy conditions on Sunday.

Editor’s Note: This story was written by Ron Brackett, The Weather Company

Lauren Moss

Lauren Moss

KWWL News Anchor and Multimedia Journalist
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