Southern snowstorm leaves icy roads, power outages

February 20, 2012 - 5:45 PM
Winter Weather

Vehicles sustain damage after a chain-reaction pileup on Interstate 75 in Campbell County, Tenn., Sunday, Feb. 19, 2012. Tennessee state police say a juvenile was seriously injured and others were hurt when blinding snow and fog contributed to the string of crashes along a three-mile stretch of Interstate 75 near Jellico, Tenn. (AP Photo/WBIR-TV, Jerry Owens)

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A day after a winter storm dumped several inches of snow on a handful of southern states, crews worked Monday to restore power to tens of thousands of customers as police responded to dozens of accidents on slippery roads.

The storm brought as much as 9 inches of snow to some areas on Sunday as it powered its way from Kentucky and Tennessee to West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina. The storm system pushed off the coast early Monday.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that despite clearing on major roads and reduced traffic flow because of Presidents Day weekend, state police responded to dozens of accidents Monday morning, including a crash involving a tractor-trailer on Interstate 64.

Officials warned that icy spots remained a hazard on bridges, overpasses and ramps. The Richmond area received 2 to 5 inches of snow.

In North Carolina, cars were sliding off the road in the Raleigh area on Monday morning, according to The News & Observer. In one fender-bender, a car slid and struck the cruiser of a police officer who was investigating another accident. The State Highway Patrol reported more than two dozen morning collisions in Wake County alone.

Meanwhile, power crews were busy working to restore power on Presidents Day.

Appalachian Power Co. reported that about 56,000 customers in Virginia and West Virginia remained without power at lunchtime Monday, down from about 66,000 the night before. Dominion Energy had reduced the number of outages in its coverage area, including Richmond, to fewer than 1,000. Kentucky Power reported on its website that more than 33,000 customers were without electricity at midday Monday. The company said more than 340 crew members were working to restore power.

"Trees, weighed by heavy snow, in already saturated ground, may continue to lose their rootings and branches leading to additional outage cases," Kentucky Power warned customers.

The storm hit toward the end of what has been an otherwise mild winter in the region.

In northern Tennessee, about 20 vehicles were involved in crashes along a three-mile stretch of Interstate 75 near the Kentucky border on Sunday afternoon.

Tennessee Highway Patrol Sgt. Stacy Heatherly said the crashes were reported shortly before 2 p.m. in near "white-out" conditions caused by heavy snowfall and fog. Police said a youth was seriously injured. All lanes of Interstate 75 had reopened by early evening.

Snow, sleet and rain caused dozens of wrecks in North Carolina.

In Virginia, the northbound lanes of Interstate 95 were shut down following a two-vehicle crash Sunday that critically injured one man, The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. The accident was reported at about 6:20 p.m. on I-95 near the interchange with Interstate 295 in Prince George County. The male driver of one vehicle suffered life-threatening injuries, and an adult male passenger in the same vehicle also was hospitalized.

Snow began sticking in the Richmond area after dark Sunday, and Virginia State Police had responded to about 700 crashes as of 10 p.m.

Nick Fillo, a meteorologist in the National Weather Service's Blacksburg, Va., office, said late Sunday that 5 to 8 inches of snow fell in the Blue Ridge Mountains, while about 3 to 6 inches fell on that state's Piedmont region.

"This was our first real winter storm," Fillo said.

Fillo said a low-pressure system would be coming out of the Rockies this week, bringing snow to the Great Lakes area but not significantly affecting the South.

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Associated Press writer Rebecca Yonker in Louisville, Ky., contributed to this report.