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Winter storm pushes into the Northeast as the South digs out


A winter storm in the Southeast spawned multiple tornadoes in southwestern Florida, displacing about 200 people and causing widespread damage.

By Derrick Bryson Taylor and Eduardo Medina


A strong winter storm that slammed the South was pushing north Monday, producing heavy snow over parts of the Lower Great Lakes, Central Appalachians, upstate New York and Canada.


While New York City and other points along the East Coast mostly experienced a mix of rain and high winds, some of the hardest-hit places over the long holiday weekend were among the least prepared.


Thousands of people in the Southeast were still without electricity Monday afternoon, with warnings that the power might take days to return in some places. Hundreds of flights were canceled. Numerous car accidents were reported on icy roads, including one that killed two people in Raleigh, North Carolina.


Digging out down South, if you have a shovel.


Tiffany Graves, 46, of Charlotte, North Carolina, said that as a Southerner, she had felt unprepared during snowstorms in years past.


But Sunday morning, as the sleet hit her window, she said she “sort of went into panic mode” and prepared for the worst: cold tuna sandwiches on standby in case the power went out; battery packs charged; ice scraper ready.


Still, Monday, as she saw neighbors shoveling snow from cars and streets outside, she realized a gap in her planning: she had no shovel of her own. But she did have electricity, unlike many in her state who were still waiting.


The snow was more of an overnight wonder in Canton, Mississippi, where up to 9 inches of snow dropped Sunday. On Monday afternoon, residents were mostly relaxing as the snow melted away from porches and parks, the captain of the Fire Department said.


“People were just excited about the snow, and it all melted by that evening,” Capt. Eric Redmond said. “It’s not normal for us to get that much snow down here.”


Winter storm warnings reach north to Canada.


Winter storm warnings stretched from western North Carolina through Maine, according to the National Weather Service.


The storm played out in typical fashion near Lake Erie. Harpersfield, Ohio, which is northeast of Cleveland and next to the lake, had received 22.5 inches of snow as of Monday morning, according to the weather service. Freezing rain and sleet turned into snow in western Pennsylvania.


Buffalo, New York, lived up to its reputation, with totals expected to reach up to 18 inches, with gusty winds as high as 40 mph through the day. On the border of the United States and Canada, the town of Grand Island, New York, in Erie County had received 22 inches of snow by 10 a.m. Monday, the service said.


Across the border, Toronto issued a winter storm warning Monday afternoon, hours after snow had risen past the knees of morning dog-walkers in some parts of the city, the fourth-largest in North America.


Police closed two of Toronto’s main intercity highways. The schools, which had been finally slated to open for in-person learning for the first time since Christmas break, were closed, with students returning to another day of online learning in many cases.


One of Canada’s most powerful politicians, Doug Ford, the Ontario premier, spent part of the day using his truck to personally yank out cars stuck in snow banks, and drive stranded drivers home.


A video of him joining a crew to dig out a car circulated on social media, inspiring critical responses from wary citizens who have suffered some of the most strict COVID regulations in North America.


“It’s an absolute mess right now,” Ford told a local news reporter.


Where the snow turned to rain, flooding was a risk. Most of the New York City area, including parts of New Jersey, was under a coastal flood warning or advisory, the weather service said.


Up to 4 inches of snow and ice had been expected for interior parts of New Jersey, and parts of the Lower Hudson Valley had accumulated more than 8 inches of snow by Monday morning.


Snow, sleet, freezing rain and rain were forecast for the Albany, New York, region. Parts of Connecticut saw similar wet conditions.


The weather service said there were gusts of over 60 mph along the Connecticut and New York coasts, but added that the strongest winds had passed by Monday afternoon.


Driving remained difficult to impossible in some regions of the Northeast, particularly in areas forecast to receive high winds, which could bring down tree branches.


David Stark, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said that wind gusts of up to 50 mph were of greater concern than snow or rain.


The storm also affected air travel. By noon, more than 1,500 flights within, into or out of the United States had been canceled, according to FlightAware, with more than 400 cancellations for flights in and out of Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina alone.


Amtrak canceled more than a dozen trains on Monday, including service between Washington and Chicago and service between Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and New York.


The storm has left thousands without power.


Over the weekend, the storm had wreaked havoc over parts of the South.


Two people were killed in a car accident east of Raleigh, North Carolina, after driving off the road into trees, The Associated Press reported. They were pronounced dead at the scene. Icy road conditions contributed to many accidents.


The storm also left tens of thousands of customers without electricity from Georgia to Massachusetts, according to PowerOutage.us, which aggregates data from utilities across the United States.


On Monday afternoon, about 18,000 customers in Georgia remained without power, and in the Carolinas, there were more than 50,000 customers still waiting for electricity to come back on, according to PowerOutage.us.


Gov. Henry McMaster of South Carolina had warned Saturday that some people could remain without power for “three or four days.”


In the South, where some governors declared states of emergency, areas such as central Mississippi and central North Carolina had received more than 9 inches of snow, while parts of central South Carolina had up to a one-half inch of ice, the weather service said.


Meteorologists had forecast a significant amount of snow and ice Sunday across the South.


More than one-quarter inch of ice accumulated in parts of the Piedmont regions of North and South Carolina on Sunday, said Frank Pereira, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.


Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina warned residents at a news conference Sunday to stay off the roads because parts of the state had received up to 1 foot of snow.


“For today, the best way to avoid a car accident or getting stranded is to stay put,” he said.


The storm system also spawned two tornadoes in southwestern Florida on Sunday morning, the weather service said. There were no reports of deaths, local officials said.


Three people were treated for minor injuries, and there was widespread damage, including to 108 mobile homes in three parks in the Iona McGregor section of Fort Myers, Florida, said Richard Rude, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Tampa. About 200 people were displaced, local officials said.

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