Storm pushes N. Carolina into state of emergency
Near-blizzard slams mid-Atlantic states, New England
January 25, 2000
RALEIGH, North Carolina (CNN) -- A near-blizzard clobbered North Carolina Tuesday, burying Raleigh's airport under a foot and a half of snow and leaving hundreds of thousands without power. Gov. Jim Hunt declared a state of emergency.
The storm extended northward through Virginia, Washington, eastern Pennsylvania, New York and New England, shutting down airports, schools, workplaces and government offices in the nation's capital.
Hunt said North Carolina, still dealing with the devastating floods left by Hurricane Floyd last fall, had much of its snow removal and transportation equipment out of position in the state's western mountains, which were spared the brunt of the storm.
"We really have a drastic situation, but we're used to a lot of these here in North Carolina and we're moving on it strongly," he said.
In Raleigh, snowfall was expected to top a single-day record of 17.8 inches set March 2, 1927, Mayor Paul Cobble said.
National Guard called out
"The amount of snow, I think, was a surprise to everybody," said state emergency management spokesman Tom Hegele. He said the hardest hit area was Piedmont, in the center of the state, and that many roads from Charlotte to Raleigh along the I-85 corridor were impassable.
More than 300,000 people were left without the power throughout the Carolinas.
About 150 National Guard troops were called out to help stranded motorists in North Carolina. The troops will also provide emergency medical services and set up temporary power generators at hospitals.
The scene was similar as the storm moved through Virginia, where at least 10 inches of snow had fallen in the Richmond area, heading north along I-95 and into central and eastern portions of the state.
"This is a fairly significant snowfall for us," said Virginia emergency management's Janet Clements.
Massive power outages
Carolina Power & Light reported 121,000 customers without power, primarily in the Sandhills area of North Carolina that includes Southern Pines and Asheboro, and in parts of South Carolina.
Charlotte-based Duke Power, which serves two million customers in North and South Carolina, said 118,000 of its customers were left without power. Both utilities had deployed crews to clear downed trees and repair damaged power lines, but CP&L said its crews were slowed by strong winds upstate.
"Visibility is very poor," said Sally Ramey, a CP&L spokeswoman. "With wind gusts at 40 miles per hour, it's just not safe to have somebody up there working on a power line in a bucket truck."
As many as 200 people were in shelters in South Carolina, according to emergency management spokeswoman Christie Johnson. While the heaviest snowfall was in the northern part of the state -- 16 inches in Clinton -- 4 inches of snow was reported in Charleston where residents are not accustomed to such winter happenings.
The unusually widespread storm -- the worst in four years in the nation's capital -- closed government offices, schools and Ronald Reagan Airport in Washington before making its way into New York and Boston.
A senior Chinese military delegation was forced by slick streets to ride the subway under the Potomac River from Washington to U.S. military headquarters at the Pentagon in suburban Virginia for a meeting on renewed military ties.
The talks got under way at mid-morning, an hour later than scheduled, because of the weather.
Few flights took off or landed at John F. Kennedy and Newark airports, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said. Snow also forced delays at Boston's Logan Airport and Philadelphia International Airport. The airports in Richmond, Virginia, and Raleigh were closed until further notice.
Snowfall of 14 inches was forecast for Virginia and the Washington suburbs, and 18 inches in eastern Pennsylvania.
Virginia hospitals called for volunteers with four-wheel-drive vehicles to take doctors and nurses to work.
Near-blizzard conditions were forecast for the Maryland mountains and 10 to 16 inches were predicted for the eastern Catskills in New York.
Storm arrived early
The storm's arrival was unexpected in the Northeast.
"We knew it was coming. It just decided to hit us a day earlier," said Tim Morrin of the National Weather Service in New York. "It's an intense winter storm, about as intense as we thought it could be, and it's hitting us with its full potential."
Delaware Gov. Thomas Carper had to cancel his State of the State address for a second time in a week because of snow. The state's General Assembly also canceled its session along with Pennsylvania's House of Representatives.
"I prayed for it, because I like the snow," said Yvette Manning of Jersey City, New Jersey. She hoped to leave work early Tuesday so she could go home and play with her son.
Reuters contributed to this report.
Icy times for the Southeastern U.S.
ncDOTnet -- North Carolina Department of Transportation
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