NASHVILLE, Tennessee (AP) – A winter storm blanketed parts of the south with snow, freezing rain and sleet on Thursday, bringing roads in Tennessee and Kentucky to a standstill as the system made its way through the Appalachians to central the Atlantic and the northeast.
Nashville saw 6.3 inches (16 centimeters) of snowfall on Thursday, shattering the city’s previous Jan.6 record of 4 inches (10 centimeters) that had been set since 1977, the National Weather Service reported. Freezing rain and sleet covered areas around the Tennessee-Alabama border, said Scott Unger, a meteorologist for the service in Nashville.
Authorities have urged people to travel only when necessary, as Metro Nashville police have reported crashes and other driving issues that have rumored and slowed down several roads. City police reported dozens of wrecks on the road in the early afternoon. A host of accidents and other problems have stranded drivers on several of the region’s highways.
Along the Kentucky border, authorities in Montgomery County, Tennessee were also facing dozens of accidents, including one crash that killed one person involving a commercial vehicle on Interstate 24, according to the door. – Tennessee Highway Patrol speech, Lt. Bill Miller.
Tennessee Department of Transportation regional spokesperson Rebekah Hammonds tweeted Thursday that the agency “is cleaning up as much as possible, but problems will persist as snow continues to fall and temperatures drop.”
With temperatures expected to drop overnight, everything on the ground will freeze over and create dangerous road conditions on Friday, Unger said.
Schools in Tennessee have canceled classes and governments have temporarily closed their buildings, as far west as Memphis and Shelby County, which have seen a dose of ice and snow. Governor Bill Lee closed state offices in Tennessee. Nashville and Memphis have both seen their share of canceled flights.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear warned the snow hitting his state was “both real and dangerous,” with hundreds of car crashes across the state. Some areas had already received more than half a foot by early afternoon, National Weather Service meteorologist Ron Steve said. Beshear has declared a state of emergency and said he has deployed Kentucky National Guard teams to help with the response, particularly during interstate closures. Search and rescue teams have been activated for security checks on stranded motorists.
Beshear closed state offices at noon on Thursday and then extended the shutdown until Friday.
The heaviest snowfall Thursday night was 20-23 centimeters (8-9 inches) in a swath from Elizabethtown to Bardstown and Nicholasville to Lexington, meteorologist Brian Schoettmer of the Louisville Meteorological Service Office said. Eastern Kentucky recorded 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 centimeters), and far western Kentucky was about 3 inches (8 centimeters).
In Elizabethtown, officials said a stack of 20 to 30 cars in snowy conditions Thursday afternoon closed both lanes of the Western Kentucky Parkway.
Kentucky transportation officials said the snow fell so fast that by the time they finished clearing some of the roads they were already covered in snow.
First Lady Jill Biden, meanwhile, had to cancel her trip scheduled for Thursday to see damage from last month’s tornado in Bowling Green, Ky.
The storm presented an expected boon to the ski industry in West Virginia, where up to 9 inches (23 centimeters) of snow was forecast. Three of the state’s four main alpine ski resorts had suspended their activities on the slopes earlier this week due to warmer conditions. Now the activity was resuming.
“West Virginia looks forward to welcoming travelers to our snow-capped mountains this winter,” said Chelsea Ruby, secretary of the state’s Department of Tourism.
The storm’s track could create further headaches as it swirls across the mid-Atlantic and northeast.
In Virginia, work was underway both to prepare for the expected snowfall and to mitigate the effects of a winter storm earlier in the week that left hundreds of drivers stranded on Interstate 95.
Governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency and requested further assistance from the Virginia National Guard.
Areas of Washington and Baltimore, parts of central and southern Maryland, and parts of northern Virginia should expect 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 centimeters) of snow overnight Thursday through Friday morning , with isolated high amounts of up to 6 inches (15 centimeters), forecasters said. The Office of Personnel Management said federal offices in the Washington area will be closed on Friday.
Massachusetts was preparing 8 inches (20 centimeters) or more from the first snowstorm of 2022, and as a precaution, many state employees were asked to stay home on Friday. Gov. Charlie Baker also urged residents to work from home or use public transportation so freeways are free of traffic and can be easily cleared.
From late Thursday through Friday afternoon, 4 to 7 inches of snow was expected in parts of central and southern New Hampshire, as well as south-central and southwestern Maine, according to the Weather Service. The highest quantities are expected along the coast. The most stable snow will be expected during the morning drive on Friday before gradually diminishing.
In Michigan, meanwhile, Great Lakes-fed snow fell for a second straight day Thursday in the western part of the state and the Upper Peninsula, with some communities reporting remarkable amounts and bracing for even more d ‘here Friday.
Ishpeming recorded 23 inches (58 centimeters) in one spot, while many other areas of the Upper Peninsula were one foot or more, the National Weather Service said.
In North Dakota, dangerously freezing weather presented the greatest risk on Thursday. Cold temperatures enveloping the state have lowered wind chill readings to minus 59 degrees in Bowbells, the seat of Burke County, in northwest North Dakota.
Associated Press editors John Raby in Charleston, West Virginia; Adrian Sainz in Memphis, Tennessee; Beth Campbell in Louisville, Kentucky; Bill Kole in Boston; Ed White in Grand Rapids, Michigan; and Sarah Rankin in Richmond, Virginia; contributed to this report.
This story has been corrected to show that snowfall in Nashville broke the record for previous snowfall on January 6. He did not break the overall record for a day.