Winter storm causes icy roads across swath of South

Severe_Weather_North_Carolina_27645 A dock and gazebo is covered with a thick layer of snow on Lake James, Sunday, December 9, 2018 in Morganton, N.C. Over a foot of snow fell in the area creating a winter wonderland. (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)
Severe_Weather_North_Carolina_94804 Josie, an English Retriever plays in the snow as her owners, Dawn and Mark Lundblad walk a snow-covered Sandy Cove Drive, Sunday, December 9, 2018 in Morganton, N.C. Over a foot of snow fell in the area creating a winter wonderland. (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)
Severe_Weather_95961 A snow-covered car is parked outside a home in Greensboro, N.C., Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018. A massive storm brought snow, sleet, and freezing rain across a wide swath of the South on Sunday - causing dangerously icy roads, immobilizing snowfalls and power losses. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Severe_Weather_66227 A man jogs with his dog down a snow-covered street in Greensboro, N.C., Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018. A massive storm brought snow, sleet, and freezing rain across a wide swath of the South on Sunday - causing dangerously icy roads, immobilizing snowfalls and power losses. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Severe_Weather_North_Carolina_44914 Nathan Fontanella carries his sled as he walks up a hill in Greensboro, N.C., Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018. A massive storm brought snow, sleet, and freezing rain across a wide swath of the South on Sunday - causing dangerously icy roads, immobilizing snowfalls and power losses to hundreds of thousands of people.(AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Severe_Weather_North_Carolina_59952 Joslyn Fontanella, 8, takes a break from shoveling a walkway to taste some snow in Greensboro, N.C., Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018. A massive storm brought snow, sleet, and freezing rain across a wide swath of the South on Sunday, causing dangerously icy roads, immobilizing snowfalls and power losses to hundreds of thousands of people.(AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Severe_Weather_38089 A driver in a small car follows three snow plows down a major road in Greensboro, N.C., Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018. A massive storm brought snow, sleet, and freezing rain across a wide swath of the South on Sunday - causing dangerously icy roads, immobilizing snowfalls and power losses to hundreds of thousands of people.(AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Severe_Weather_North_Carolina_89175 A snow plow moves on a snowy Durham, N.C., street after several inches fell on Sunday Dec. 9, 2018. A storm spreading snow, sleet and freezing rain across a wide swath of the South has millions of people in its path, raising the threat of immobilizing snowfalls, icy roads and possible power outages. (AP Photo/Jonathan Drew)
Severe_Weather_North_Carolina_75623 Cars move slowly on a snowy Durham, N.C., street after several inches fell on Sunday Dec. 9, 2018. A storm spreading snow, sleet and freezing rain across a wide swath of the South has millions of people in its path, raising the threat of immobilizing snowfalls, icy roads and possible power outages. (AP Photo/Jonathan Drew)
Severe_Weather_Virginia_85564 Snow falls in Bristol, Va., early Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018. A storm spreading snow, sleet and freezing rain across a wide swath of the South has millions of people in its path, raising the threat of immobilizing snowfalls, icy roads and possible power outages. (Andre Teague/The Bristol Herald-Courier via AP)
Severe_Weather_Virginia_70108 Interstate 81 is covered by snow early Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018, in Bristol, Va. A storm spreading snow, sleet and freezing rain across a wide swath of the South has millions of people in its path, raising the threat of immobilizing snowfalls, icy roads and possible power outages. (Andre Teague/The Bristol Herald-Courier via AP)
Severe_Weather_Virginia_16212 Dion Wiles takes advantage of the deserted streets to capture photos of the snow Bristol, Tennessee and Virginia state line early Sunday morning, Dec. 9, 2018. A storm spreading snow, sleet and freezing rain across a wide swath of the South has millions of people in its path, raising the threat of immobilizing snowfalls, icy roads and possible power outages. (Andre Teague/The Bristol Herald-Courier via AP)
Severe_Weather_North_Carolina_43339 A car drives slowly down Old NC 98 in Wake Forest, N.C., on Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018. A storm spreading snow, sleet and freezing rain across a wide swath of the South has millions of people in its path, raising the threat of immobilizing snowfalls, icy roads and possible power outages. (AP Photo/Allen G. Breed)
Tervante Wilkerson trudges through blowing snow up Old NC 98 in Wake Forest, N.C., on Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018. Wilkerson, who was walking across town to see his two young children, said, "It's definitely a Kodak moment in Wake Forest." (AP Photo/Allen G. Breed)
Tervante Wilkerson trudges past a snow-plastered Bobcat on Old NC 98 in Wake Forest, N.C., on Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018. Wilkerson, who was walking across town to see his two young children, said, "It's definitely a Kodak moment in Wake Forest." (AP Photo/Allen G. Breed)
Severe_Weather_91354 John Woodrum, shovels his car on Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018, in Roanoke, Va. A massive storm brought snow, sleet, and freezing rain across a wide swath of the South on Sunday — causing dangerously icy roads, immobilizing snowfalls and power losses to hundreds of thousands of people. (Stephanie Klein-Davis /The Roanoke Times via AP)
Severe_Weather_North_Carolina_02195 Good samaritans help a driver who is lodged in the snow Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018, along South Hawthorne Road in Winston-Salem, N.C. (Allison Lee Isley/The Winston-Salem Journal via AP)
Severe_Weather_North_Carolina_02711 Zac Evans, front, and Stephen LaFleur go airborn sledding off a ramp while Deac, the dog, follows them down the hill at Ardmore Park Soccer Field on Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018, in Winston-Salem, N.C. (Allison Lee Isley/The Winston-Salem Journal via AP)
Severe_Weather_Virginia_98659 A snow plow is followed closely by cars as it clears US301 in Hanover County, Va. on Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018 (Dean Hoffmeyer/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP)
Severe_Weather_Virginia_69593 Workers plow and shovel the Martin Luther King Bridge at 1st Street and Salem Avenue in Roanoke, Va., Sunday, December 9, 2018. (Stephanie Klein-Davis/The Roanoke Times via AP)
Severe_Weather_Virginia_74324 Keith Palmer with KAK Construction plows the terrace and walkway along the 111 Franklin Plaza building in Roanoke, Va.m early Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018. The crew said they had to arrive as soon as the snow started falling. (Stephanie Klein-Davis/The Roanoke Times via AP)
Severe_Weather_Virginia_14408 Joanna Montano walks her dogs; Jasmine Squishy Face and Spook, in the snow early Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018 outside her downtown Roanoke apartment building. Grateful to be off work she was not excited about the fact her dogs had to be taken outside. (Stephanie Klein-Davis/The Roanoke Times via AP)
Severe_Weather_Tennessee_58398 Luke and Jen Dunnewold race down the hill at Foothills Mall after the first snow of the season Sunday in Maryville, Tennessee Sunday, December 9, 2018. (Tom Sherlin/The Daily Times via AP)
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — A massive storm brought snow, sleet, and freezing rain across a wide swath of the South on Sunday — causing dangerously icy roads, immobilizing snowfalls and power losses to hundreds of thousands of people.

Accidents on snow-covered interstates caused major delays, hundreds of flights were canceled and drivers in North Carolina and Virginia got stuck in snow or lost control on icy patches. Meanwhile, kids and the young at heart took advantage of the early winter snow with snowball fights, sledding and snowmen.

Police in North Carolina and Virginia said they’d responded to hundreds of snow-related traffic accidents as of Sunday afternoon, as cars, trucks and tractor-trailers all struggled with the snow and ice.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper strongly urged residents to stay off the roads Sunday, asking drivers not to put lives of first responders needlessly at risk. Cooper said emergency crews, including the National Guard, worked overnight to clear traffic accidents on major roadways.

“Stay put if you can,” Cooper said. “Wrap a few presents, decorate the tree, watch some football.”

Five members of a dive team searched the Neuse River in Kinston, North Carolina, for a missing truck driver Sunday after a tractor-trailer ran off a road and into the river, WRAL-TV reported . Police just outside of Charlotte said a driver died when a tree fell on a moving vehicle.

Governors and local officials in several states declared emergencies ahead of the storm crossing several Southern states, which hit portions of North Carolina and Virginia particularly hard.

Virginia State Police said Interstate 81 in far southwest Virginia was particularly dangerous, with snow coming down faster Sunday afternoon than crews could clear it. Police said several tractor-trailers slid off the highway.

Officials warned residents to prepare emergency kits and stay off roads in impacted areas. Several schools districts in North Carolina and Virginia announced they’ll be closed Monday.

“Virginians should take all necessary precautions to ensure they are prepared for winter weather storm impacts,” said Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam.

The National Weather Service said a “prolonged period of snow” began late Saturday and would last until Monday in the region, with the heaviest snow expected in northwest North Carolina and southern Virginia. Some areas of North Carolina and Virginia saw more than a foot (30 centimeters) of snow by Sunday afternoon.

More than 300,000 power outages were reported across the region with the majority of those — about 240,000 — in North Carolina, according to poweroutage.us. Parts of Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia also saw outages.

Charlotte Douglas International Airport, the sixth busiest airport in the country, said American Airlines reduced its operations, with more than 1,000 flights canceled on Sunday.

American Airlines also issued a travel alert for nine airports throughout the Carolinas, Tennessee, and Virginia, meaning passengers may be able to change travel plans without a fee.

Travelers were advised to check their flight status before heading to the airport. Cancellations were reported on flights from as far as the Midwest.

Copyright © 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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