Millions of Americans on the East Coast are bracing for a harsh winter as a widespread storm system continues to track east.
The storm that brought dangerous conditions to the Midwestern states on Saturday is expected to bring heavy snow that will later turn into torrential rains and ice storms in the Mid-Atlantic states, particularly Georgia and the Carolinas, d here on Sunday evening.
Blowing snow and whiteout conditions are possible as well as heavy rain, coastal and localized flooding. The highest snow totals are expected from the Great Smokey Mountains to the Appalachian region, with 6 to 18 inches of snow possible in the mountains of Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.
The Great Lakes region, especially Cleveland towards Plattsburgh, New York and the upper Hudson Valley, could receive up to a foot of snow. Northeastern coastal areas, including Washington, DC, Philadelphia, New York and Boston, could see up to 3 inches of snow, although that will likely be washed away when the snow changes to rain early Monday.
Parts of the south are also expected to see some snow accumulation, with 3 to 6 inches possible. Atlanta could see its first measurable snow total in four years. Significant ice accumulation is possible in parts of the Carolinas, which could lead to power outages and widespread damage to trees and travel impacts. An ice storm warning is in effect for parts of northern South Carolina.
More than 170,000 customers were without power in North and South Carolina as of Sunday morning, a Duke Energy spokesperson told ABC News. Most of the affected customers are near the Georgian border, the spokesperson said. In Georgia, more than 53,000 customers are without electricity, 30,000 in Florida and 9,000 in Arkansas.
Many roads in northern and western North Carolina were also covered in snow and ice Sunday morning, state Department of Transportation spokesman Marty Homan told ABC News. While crews work to clear the roads, Homan warned residents to continue to stay away to allow the emergency responders room to work.
North Carolina officials said conditions statewide were “unsafe” in many areas, and crews had already responded to 460 service calls and 200 collisions as of this morning.
“Please don’t take unnecessary risks with this dangerous winter storm. Stay put and stay safe. I want you to also know that we are so grateful to the people working hard in the cold right now. “said North Carolina Go. . Roy Cooper said at a press conference on Sunday.
Nearly 2.5 inches of rain are then expected in the Carolinas on Sunday, with localized flooding likely extending north toward the New York City subway through Monday morning.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul also advised residents to prepare for the storm by having enough food, water and batteries at home in case the power goes out. Hochul warned people to avoid traveling after Sunday evening due to potentially hazardous road conditions.
“It could be a very dangerous situation,” Hochul said.
The storm is then expected to leave New England by Monday evening.
More than 2,700 flights across the country were canceled on Sunday, according to FlightAware. Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia declared states of emergency Friday ahead of the storm, while West Virginia declared statewide ‘state of preparedness’ .
On Saturday, states such as Arkansas, North Dakota, Missouri and Iowa were affected by the storm as it moved east on Saturday. Images showed roads in Kansas City, Missouri, and Little Rock, Arkansas, covered in snow and ice.
Meanwhile, in Florida, a tornado reportedly hit Fort Myers.
According to Lee County Commissioner and Chairman Cecil Pendergrass, 28 homes were “totally destroyed” and a total of 62 homes are no longer habitable after a possible tornado touched down in the Fort Myers area. Most of the damage assessed was in a mobile home community.
Four people were injured, all injuries being minor. No one was taken to hospital. Authorities believe a tornado touched down in the Summerlin Road area and tracked north.
ABC News’ Meredith Deliso, Hilda Estevez, Elwyn Lopez and Daniel Peck contributed to this report.