|Emergency declared in eastern US to deal with mega ice storm dumping snow and rain
A deadly ice storm stranded scores of people on slick roads and knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of US homes Wednesday.
(Pictured, image from NOAA's GOES-East satellite on February 11, shows clouds associated with the major winter storm in the US).
More than 3,700 flights due to take off Thursday were canceled across the United States, including well over half of flights at the busiest US airport, Atlanta's Hartfield International, airline monitors said.
The National Weather Service began warning days ago that a “mammoth dome'' of Arctic air would settle over the eastern United States to form a “paralyzing ice storm.''
“The ice accumulations remain mind-boggling, if not historical,'' it said, warning that more than an inch of ice could fall from Georgia to South Carolina.
The massive storm – which stretched from Alabama to Virginia – was also expected to dump as much as a foot of snow.
It was set to strengthen as it climbed northward along the eastern seaboard Thursday, with snowfall totals topping 18 inches by the time the storm reached the far northeastern New England region.
Accidents and abandoned cars caused traffic jams in North Carolina, with the usually temperate cities of Raleigh and Charlotte transformed into ice- and snow-covered parking lots.
Two deaths in Georgia were blamed on the storm so far, local media reported. That put the death toll at four, though it was unofficial and still early.
Specialty website FlightAware said airlines have already canceled 3,703 flights for Thursday, including more than half of flights to and from New York and Washington.
Seventy percent of flights in the Delta Airlines hub of Atlanta were cancelled Wednesday and 55 percent of those in the US Airways hub of Charlotte, North Carolina, according to FlightAware.
US President Barack Obama declared states of emergency in Georgia and South Carolina to deploy federal resources.