By Rich McKay
ATLANTA (Reuters) – An intense snow storm headed out to sea on Monday after dumping up to 2 feet of snow on parts of the southeastern United States, leaving one person dead in North Carolina and cutting off power for more than 200,000 people.
School districts across North and South Carolina and Virginia canceled classes for the day and emergency officials warned that heavy snow and icy roads were slowing their responses to reports, such as those of hundreds of stranded motorists.
The storm dropped its heaviest snow in the appropriately named Whitetop, Virginia, tucked in the Appalachian Mountains along the western end of the Virginia-North Carolina border, the U.S. National Weather Service said. Whitetop received 2 feet (60 cm) of snow, while Greensboro, North Carolina, had 16 inches (41 cm) and Durham, North Carolina, got 14 inches (36 cm).
David Ashby, chief deputy for the sheriff’s office in Grayson County, Virginia, where Whitetop is located, said in a phone interview that heavy snowfall had made responding to emergency calls difficult in residential areas.
“Someone passed away in her house and normally it would have been a short amount of time for us to verify, but it took about four or five hours,” Ashby said, adding that the death was unrelated to the storm. “Tremendous amount of gravel roads to clear up.”
A motorist died and a passenger was injured in Matthews, North Carolina, on Sunday when a tree fell on their vehicle as it was traveling, causing the driver to slam into a church, Matthew police officials said in a statement.
In Kinston, North Carolina, divers searched for a driver whose 18-wheeler was found in a river, a NBC affiliate in Raleigh reported.
More than 220,000 customers were without power in the Carolinas and Virginia, Poweroutage.us reported.
The storm prompted the cancellations of one in four flights into and out of Charlotte/Douglas International Airport, the sixth-busiest in the country, and other airports across the region, according to flight-tracking website FlightAware.
Greensboro, North Carolina Mayor Nancy Vaughan, who declared a state of emergency for the city on Sunday, said online that its police and fire departments have responded to over 100 accidents and 450 stranded motorists.
“Stay off the roads if you can,” Vaughan tweeted on Monday.
More than 100 counties across Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia have delayed or canceled classes on Monday due to severe weather.
(Additional reporting by Gina Cherelus and Maria Caspani in New York and Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Scott Malone, Steve Orlofsky and Richard Chang)