More than 247,000 customers in North Carolina were without power Sunday afternoon, more than 82,000 in South Carolina, and another 75,000 in Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi. Parts of Georgia also saw outages.
The mercury is forecast to drop to 23 F (-5 C) overnight in Winston-Salem, not the best of times to be without power.
“North Carolina is in the cold, icy grip of a mammoth winter storm,” North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said at a news conference. “Enjoy the beauty but respect the danger. Don’t be fooled. This storm is treacherous.”
The National Weather Service warned that the snowfall would continue until Monday, with the heaviest amounts in northwest North Carolina and southern Virginia. More than a foot (30 cm) of snow had already fallen on parts of North Carolina and Virginia by Sunday afternoon.
Parts of western North Carolina had already been hit with 14 to 15 inches of snow, making it impossible for snow-clearing crews to get to some areas.
“Winter storm warnings are in effect from northeast Georgia to central Virginia,” the NWS said in its advisory. “Expect near-impossible travel conditions.” This is a “major” winter storm.