Hundreds of thousands of people lost power in southeastern states from Louisiana to North Carolina, as a severe winter storm moved up the East Coast, dropping heavy snow and freezing rain from Texas to New England. By early Thursday morning, thousands of flights to and from the region had been cancelled.
The Piedmont area of North Carolina appeared to be hit hardest on Wednesday, with some areas of the state suffering traffic jams that recalled the storm that struck Atlanta two weeks ago.
Snow is steadily falling in Washington, D.C., which may see 6-9 inches of snow between Wednesday and Thursday morning. Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York are all expecting at least 5 inches before the snow turns to rain or sleet, reports the Weather Channel. Boston could see 3 to 5 inches, though some forecasts are predicting a change to rain. Higher elevations in New England could see as much as a foot and a half of snow.
Georgia has declared a state of emergency citing ice as the biggest hazard. Schools and government offices in the state have closed their doors in an attempt to avoid the traffic chaos that ensued after last month's storm.
"The ice accumulations remain mind-boggling, if not historical," warned the The National Weather Service, adding that a foot of snow was forecast to hit New England on Thursday as the massive storm pulled moisture in off the Atlantic.
"There’s a big swath of nasty snow and ice that’s moving up the East Coast,” said Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) at a press conference. “It’s a big storm, and it has the potential to do a lot of damage.”
South Carolina has more than 200,000 people without power and Georgia nearly 140,000, reported CNN. The utility Georgia Power expects more customers to go dark in the next day and warns the power may stay out for days.
Charlotte, N.C., could see up to 10 inches of snow. The city opened shelters and dozens of flights were cancelled at the city's airport. Police were working to clear 100 wrecks in heavy snow, reported The Charlotte Observer.
A number of southern states declared a state of emergency, including Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Maryland.
More than 3,000 flights were cancelled on Wednesday, about 2,000 of those in Atalanta alone. The weather service warned that travel through the South may not be possible over the next few days.
At least nine people have died in weather-related traffic accidents since Monday, according to the Weather Channel. ABC News reported a Dallas firefighter was killed by a skidding car that knocked him off an overpass as he was helping another driver.
Significant snow accumulation is expected across the Mid-Atlantic states tonight and into Thursday.
East of Atlanta residents are preparing for heavy snow. Metropolitan Atlanta has already seen half an inch of ice, with South Carolina expecting up to an inch by Thursday night.
This storm follows one on Jan. 28 that exposed Atlanta's inability to handle severe winter weather.
"Last time, I was totally unprepared. I was completely blindsided," said Lisa Nadir, of Acworth, who slept in her car after more than a dozen hours waiting in traffic during the Jan. 28 storm. "I'm going to be prepared from now on for the rest of my life," she told ABC News.