ATLANTA (AP) — A winter storm made its way across the Southeast on Thursday, dumping snow in states recovering from days of rain, playing a role in at least one fatality, and leaving thousands without power.
Weather warnings and advisories were in effect for sections of Alabama, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.
Parts of Mississippi saw 2 to 4 inches of snow on the ground. In Lowndes County, Highway Patrol spokesman Cpl. Criss Turnipseed said Johnnie A. Matthews, 64, of West Point died when his car collided with a downed tree about 5 a.m. on Mississippi Highway 50.
Turnipseed says the large pine tree in the roadway appeared to have been uprooted by wind and ground saturation due to excessive rainfall. The winter blitz follows days of heavy rain across much of the Southeast.
No other fatalities have been reported.
In Roanoke, Va., heavy snow was falling as residents prepared for the first significant storm of the season. Thousands of customers in the southwestern part of the state were without power. Appalachian Power said the heavy, wet snow contributed to outages to at least 45,000 customers.
The National Weather Service said a foot of snow was possible in the highest elevations of southeastern Virginia. At the other end of the spectrum, parts of Hampton Roads could see just a dusting.
In Bland County, Virginia, heavy snow, downed trees, disabled vehicles and numerous crashes partially closed I-77, said Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller. Traffic was moving slowly Thursday night and Geller said officials would work through the night to reopen all lanes.
In Alabama on Thursday, northern and central parts of the state were blanketed with as much as 4 inches of snow, forcing businesses and schools to close early and snarling traffic on Interstate 65, where some motorists were stuck for seven or more hours after a series of crashes that caused a miles-long traffic jam. The county emergency management agency opened a shelter at the Cullman Civic Center for stranded motorists, but it wasn't clear how many drivers could even get there.
Traffic crawled across a slickened Tennessee River bridge over a waterway swollen out of its banks. Some areas of the state had received as much as 6 inches of rain since Sunday, prompting flood warnings and watches across a wide area.