A punishing, relentless snowstorm slammed most of the Eastern United States Wednesday evening, grounding flights, halting travel and knocking out power to more than 350,00 customers, Reuters reports.
Reuters notes that at least 13 deaths have been directly related to the blistering conditions, including three people who were killed when an ambulance transporting a patient skidded off an icy road in Carlsbad, Texas.
The National Weather Service reports that winter storm warnings and advisories are in effect from Arkansas to the East and much of the Atlantic coast. Areas in the Northeastern United States can expect heavy snowfall the next two days, with some parts predicted to get as much as 15 inches of snow.
“We definitely consider this to be a high-impact event, and we’re definitely telling everyone to stay off the roads and stay inside as much as possible,” said Carl Barnes, a weather forecaster in Sterling, Va.
Parts of the country that haven’t been pummeled by snow have streets covered in thick ice from freezing rain. In South Carolina and North Carolina, snow and freezing rain created dangerous commutes that had some abandoning their cars on side streets, as nearly eight to nine inches of frozen precipitation is expected, Reuters notes.
Hundreds of schools, colleges and offices throughout the country have been shut down as governors declared states of emergencies from Louisiana to New Jersey, Reuters reports.
According to the news site an estimated 6,700 U.S. flights were canceled or delayed on Wednesday, and another 3,700 were expected to be grounded for Thursday, according to the flight-tracking website FlightAware.com.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 363,000 power customers were without electricity as of mid-afternoon Wednesday, with more than a third of them residing in Georgia. A Georgia Power spokeswoman told Reuters that some residents might be forced to go without power for at least a week.
The White House canceled a Thursday event to mark the launch of the president’s widely discussed “My Brother’s Keeper” campaign to help young black men.