Icy blast freezes US

Last updated 11:04 09/12/2013

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A winter storm is delivering a sloppy smorgasbord of snow, freezing rain and sleet to parts of the US, causing major traffic accidents and travel delays.

The slow-moving storm prompted officials in Virginia, parts of Maryland and other states to urge residents to stay off the roads and forced scattered airport delays.

In Wisconsin, there were several serious crashes due to snow and dangerous road conditions, including a 30-car pile up on the Interstate-94 near Milwaukee.


In Pennsylvania, the snow wreaked havoc on the turnpike and covered the fields of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles in white.

Paul Jones, 24, a youth hockey coach from Warminster in the Philadelphia suburbs, was on his way to a game in Lancaster when he got stuck - along with his fiance, another coach and three players - in a major backup on the turnpike.

The roadway was "snow-covered, slick," Jones said in an interview from the car, where he was a passenger and had been at a standstill for more than an hour.

"People are in and out" of their vehicles, he said. "Kids are having a snowball fight on the side of the road, making snow angels, people are walking their dogs."

The National Weather Service said the high pressure system from North Carolina north to New England is being fed by disturbances from the southwest and moist air off the Atlantic.

"This is not one big storm but a couple storms lined up side-by-side," meteorologist Kevin Witt said. "That's just a recipe for winter precipitation."

The forecast called for the wintry mix to continue bringing rain early in the week.

Virginia, parts of West Virginia and the metropolitan Washington, DC, area braced for blackouts under steady freezing rain, wet snow and sleet.

Parts of northwest and southwest Virginia and southern West Virginia were getting snow, while sleet and freezing rain prevailed west and north of Richmond.

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"We're actually getting something of everything," said meteorologist Anita Silverman in the Blacksburg, Virginia, office of the National Weather Service.

The snow was been heavier than forecast in Maryland, falling at a rate of an inch an hour in parts of the state at midday. Accumulation of 5 inches was been reported in Carroll County, northwest of Baltimore.

The tracking website Flightaware.com estimates 2,197 flights were cancelled nationwide as of Sunday afternoon. That follows two days of similarly difficult travel conditions.

- AP

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