U.S. News

Two dead in N.C. crash as major winter storm grips eastern U.S.

By Simon Druker & Don Jacobson   |   Updated Jan. 17, 2022 at 6:36 PM
A map showing a major winter storm moving up the U.S. East Coast, causing rain, ice, snow and strong winds. Two people were killed in North Carolina in a car accident on winter roads Sunday. Thousands of flights have also been delayed or cancelled. Graphic courtesy of the U.S. National Weather Service

Jan. 17 (UPI) -- Two people were killed after a vehicle crash in North Carolina, likely related to the road conditions, as winter weather affected millions in the eastern United States.

The two victims in Sunday's fatal crash were from Myrtle Beach, and the North Carolina Highway Patrol said the "winter weather created challenging road conditions," according to the Sun News.

Several inches of snow had fallen across the state by Monday, and government officials urged people to avoid driving if possible.

"For today, the best way to avoid a car accident or getting stranded is to stay put," said North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper.

"Fewer people on the road means fewer car crashes, plus it allows highway crews and utility workers to get faster results."

More than 50 million people across the eastern United States were under winter weather alerts and 60,000 homes and businesses in the Southeast, remained without power as darkness fell Monday evening, according to PowerOutage.us.

The same storm system is responsible for an EF2 tornado that touched down in Fort Myers, Fla., on Sunday morning, according to the National Weather Service. Minor injuries have been reported in that case.

"A major winter storm will continue heavy snow and strong winds today from the central Appalachians into Upstate New York and the higher elevations of New England with dangerous travel, power outages, and coastal flooding. Strong winds are expected behind the storm as far south as Georgia which could lead to additional power outages and tree damage, especially in areas with significant ice," according to the agency's Weather Prediction Center.

The weather is causing major flight delays and cancellations as well.

More than 2,800 flights heading into or out of the United States were delayed by early Monday evening, while nearly 1,700 had been canceled, according to FlightAware.

A wide swath of light to moderate snow was still falling from the Blue Ridge Mountains and through the interior Northeast all the way to Maine by late Monday afternoon, but the forecasters expected the storm to move into Southeastern Canada by Tuesday.

"Much of the rest of the interior Northeast will see the snow becoming more scattered tonight," the weather service said in its latest forecast.

The storm started before the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend in the Midwest. The international airport in Des Moines, Iowa, received 14.3 inches of snow on Saturday while surrounding areas in Iowa got at least a foot of snow.

According to the Minnesota Department of Transportation, the snow created treacherous driving conditions and many other vehicles spun out or stalled as the snowstorm multiple accidents occurred on Interstate 35 early Saturday morning.

Heavy snow was also reported in Arkansas, with multiple areas in the state picking up more than 5 inches by lunchtime Saturday. While no snow accumulated, light snow flurries were recorded as far south and west as Dallas.

Accuweather.com contributed to this story.