Friday, December 18, 2009

East Coast Winter Storm Expected To Hit 50 Million People

Heavy Snow Storm will spread up the I-95 corridor during the day Saturday, bring up to a foot of snow in some areas.

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Storm moves into mid-Atlantic states with Snow

Holiday travelers and shoppers in the mid-Atlantic region are getting hit by a storm expected to dump more than a foot of snow after hitting the South and parts of Florida with heavy rain.

Airlines along the coastal region were waiving certain fees in anticipation of flight cancellations Friday and Saturday.

In South Florida, homes were flooded and drivers were stranded as the storm system headed north bearing heavy snow, prompting winter storm warnings from the Carolinas to New Jersey.

The National Weather Service warned that snow, sometimes mixed with rain, would fall into Saturday on much of the Atlantic seaboard on the last shopping weekend before Christmas.

Rain and low clouds were causing delays up to 30 minutes at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

Snow will range from several inches in much of the warning area to as much as 20 inches in Washington, D.C., and parts of western and central Virginia.

Amtrak spokeswoman Karina Romero said the railway was putting extra crews on duty, in part to keep ice from forming on the overhead lines that power electric trains. Extra locomotives equipped with snow plows would also be available.

Forecasters said it could bring the most snow in the nation’s capital since a February 2003 storm dumped nearly 27 inches at Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

Washington’s Catholic University of America canceled the last day of exams Saturday, leaving it to about 250 students and their professors to work out how to take the tests without disrupting holiday travel plans. Erin Vick, a freshman who had two exams set for Saturday, said was going home to Connecticut and her philosophy professor would e-mail the exam to students.

Up to a foot of snow was forecast in parts of Tennessee, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Travel will become difficult in heavy, wet snow and visibility will be poor in many areas as the storm hits northern areas later in the day, forecasters said.

Roads prepped with salt

Maryland and Washington crews were prepping roads by spraying salt brine solution to prevent snow and ice from sticking.

Delaware emergency management spokeswoman Roseanne Pack says motorists are being urged to exercise extreme caution in deciding whether to drive Saturday.

Officials urged motorists to be cautious in deciding whether to drive Saturday.

The National Park Service closed a road through Newfound Gap between Tennessee and North Carolina in the Great Smoky Mountains after it got 4 inches of snow.

The Coast Guard sent an airplane to fly from North Carolina to New Jersey warning boaters by radio to stay in port if they didn’t have an urgent need to be on the water.

In West Virginia, Ron Hart’s hardware store sold out of many supplies after a wind storm last week knocked out electricity for days. On Friday, he was swamped again as customers bought heaters, propane, generator cords and plugs, and insulating tape.

“People are having to spend money on bare essentials versus Christmas,” Hart said. “Our Christmas sales are considerably down because what people are having to buy.”

Salt and sleds sell well

Rock salt for roads, shovels and sleds were selling briskly as wet snow fell in Asheville, N.C., which is forecast to get a foot or more through Saturday.

“People started yesterday. We’re out of kerosene heaters and we’re almost out of fire wood,” said Jim Weintraub, owner of Ace Hardware in Asheville.

“The most popular things beside the salt is the sleds. I’ve been told we’re the only store around with sleds. As I was driving back up to the store my wife was calling me and saying, where are you, people are waiting for sleds!”

Retailers in Asheville said they’ll keep their doors open for holiday shoppers.

“It would take a lot for us to close at this time of year,” Asheville Mall general manager Jeff Washburn told The Citizen-Times of Asheville.

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