The first major winter storm of the season moved up the mid-Atlantic coast Saturday and headed to New England after bringing a rare blanket of snow to parts of the Deep South.
The National Weather Service said the Washington, D.C., area, where snow fell steadily by mid-morning, could get up to 3 inches. New York City and Boston forecasters called for up to 7 inches.
The weather service said snow and ice could linger into Tuesday followed by a likely blast of arctic air that could drop wind chill temperatures below zero later next week..
Eric Fisher, chief meteorologist for Boston's WBZ-TV, tried to put the first round of snow weather into perspective for Bostonians: "Gameday is here … time for our first taste of winter weather," he wrote. "Oddly enough, it won’t be as nasty as what they got across the south!"
Accumulations of 6 inches were reported in Mississippi and northern Georgia, while at least 5 inches fell in Alabama. Rare snow flurries were spotted in New Orleans. Motorists were urged to stay off the roads in Louisiana for fear of ice.
Metro Atlanta got 3 to 6 inches of snow in this early arrival of winter, snarling air traffic and highways. The snowfall was enough to remind some residents of the 2014 storm that brought the city to a standstill and stranded motorists on roads overnight with just 2 inches of precipitation.
Delta Air Lines canceled 290 flights Saturday in the wake of the snowstorm that hit Atlanta on Friday, causing more disruptions for travelers at its largest hub. Southwest Airlines, the second-largest carrier at Hartsfield-Jackson, canceled 39 Atlanta flights for Saturday, after dozens of cancellations Friday.
TODAY IN THE SKY: Fliers face flight woes Saturday as winter storm heads north
“It’s the first snow of the season and any time you even mention snow in the South, you’re going to get people a little panicky,” said David Nadler, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s office south of Atlanta.
Several Georgia school systems closed Friday in advance of the storm. Power was knocked out to around 300,000 Georgians.
Firefighters in Atlanta said one man was electrocuted by a downed power line. The Atlanta Fire Department said the unidentified man was found dead Friday night in the middle of the roadway near the live wire.
The winter storm brought snow and icy driving conditions along a wide swath up the East Coast through the Mid-Atlantic states and into New England.
Businesses closed and commuters left work early as snow mixed with rain fell in downtown Atlanta, jamming traffic on slushy roads far ahead of the usual rush hour.
The weather band also brought a rare snowfall to parts of South Texas, including San Antonio, Austin, Houston and Corpus Christi.
In Louisiana, highway department officials monitored elevated roadways and bridges that stretch across much of the southern part of the state, warning motorists to stay home if possible. Some highways were shut down Friday, as snow fell in cities and towns that have little experience with it. Truckers were urged to stay off of Interstate 10 in Mississippi.
Short, squat snowmen — some already melting by Friday afternoon — dotted yards and parks around Baton Rouge. Josh Black, 30, an LSU graduate student, took photos of one tiny snowman outside the State Capitol building near the gravesite of former Louisiana Gov. Huey Long.
Black, who hails from the Toronto, Canada, area, chuckled about southern Louisiana’s reaction to the snow.
“They canceled school this morning, which is funny to me, for an inch of snow that is going to melt in an hour,” he said, smiling. “This is like May or October where I’m from.”