Winter storm coats parts of South, heads toward New England

Posted at 10:23 AM, Jan 08, 2017

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) -- A winter storm that left a glaze of ice and snow across portions of the South and is being blamed for at least three deaths has turned its attention to New England, where travel conditions have already become treacherous and a chain-reaction accident on a Connecticut road involved nearly two dozen cars.

Before the storm churned north along the Atlantic coast, it left icy conditions in Alabama and Mississippi, where a former governor was hospitalized after he slipped and fell on his icy driveway. At least seven locations in North Carolina reported 10 inches of snow as the storm entered the state on Saturday, and blizzard conditions occurred in southeast Virginia.

The three deaths related to the storm occurred in Virginia, Georgia and Kentucky, and officials said they were the result of cars traveling on roads made slick by ice. Other traffic deaths are being investigated to determine if weather played a factor.

North Carolina power outages peaked around 25,000, according to Gov. Roy Cooper, but power company figures indicate the number had dropped to several thousand by late Saturday.

Forecasters in New England were expecting up to a foot of snow in Boston, but Cape Cod and other parts of the south Massachusetts coast were in line for up to 2 feet of wind-driven snow and police implored residents to stay home and off the roads.

Officials at Boston's Logan International Airport urged travelers to check with their airlines since numerous flights were canceled or delayed, many because of weather conditions elsewhere in the U.S.

Long lines were reported at many supermarkets and hardware stores where residents were scooping up snow blowers and supplies such as ice melt and windshield wiper fluid.

At least three tractor-trailers and a tanker were involved in the pile-up on a snowy stretch of Interstate 91 in Middletown, Connecticut, early Saturday afternoon. Video released by state police on Twitter showed several damaged cars and a truck that appeared jackknifed across the roadway.

Middletown's mayor said several people were treated for minor injuries at the scene and a few were brought to area hospitals.

Connecticut police said the crash was one of at least 115 around the state between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

"The driving conditions are unsafe," said state highway director Tom Tinlin. "We are talking about the potential for white-out conditions, close to zero visibility."

North Carolina reported more than 700 crashes, while Virginia State Police said they responded to 500 crashes. Parts of three interstates in Mississippi were gridlocked by icy conditions. Hundreds of flights were canceled, from Atlanta to airports farther north.

Dangerous driving conditions were behind the decision by officials to postpone Saturday night's men's basketball game between North Carolina and North Carolina State. The game was rescheduled for 1 p.m. Sunday.

In Portland, Oregon, two basketball games fell victim to approaching severe winter weather. The NBA game between the Trail Blazers and the Detroit Pistons, scheduled for Saturday night, was postponed and moved to Sunday. No. 5 Gonzaga's scheduled men's basketball game at Portland also was postponed, although no makeup date was announced.

A family spokesman says former Mississippi Gov. William Winter is in intensive care with a concussion after falling on the steep, icy driveway of his Jackson home.

University of Mississippi Medical Center spokeswoman Alana Bowman says the 93-year-old Winter was in serious condition Saturday.

Former Winter staff member Dick Molpus, speaking for the ex-governor's family, says a neurologist told them Winter is responding well and his prognosis for recovery is good.


Finley reported from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Tom Foreman Jr. reported from Winston-Salem. Emily Wagster Pettus in Jackson, Mississippi, Bob Salsberg in Boston and John Nicholson in New York contributed to this report.