WASHINGTON (AP) — Millions of people awoke Saturday to heavy snow outside their doorsteps, strong winds that threatened to increase through the weekend, and largely empty roads as residents from the South to the Northeast heeded warnings to hunker down inside while a mammoth storm barreled across a large swath of the country.
The worst of the blizzard was yet to come, with strong winds and heavy snow expected to produce “life-threatening blizzard conditions” throughout Saturday, according to the National Weather Service’s website. Forecasters also predicted up to a half-inch of ice accumulation in the Carolinas, and potentially serious coastal flooding in the mid-Atlantic.
Snow had started falling Friday, and Kentucky felt quite a brunt from that, with 18 inches in some areas. Drivers who opted to take to the roads were stranded on a long stretch of Interstate 75 south of Lexington because of a string of crashes and blowing snow, state police and witnesses said. The road was closed overnight, but reopened early Saturday morning, with traffic moving slowly, said Buddy Rogers, spokesman for Kentucky Emergency Management. It was unclear how many were stuck. Crews had been making wellness checks; passing out snacks, fuel and water; and trying to move cars one by one. Some had been stranded since Friday afternoon, and emergency shelters had opened.
Motorists also were reported stranded along pockets of the Pennsylvania Turnpike near the Allegheny Mountain Tunnel in Somerset County. The National Guard was called to help. Some travelers were stuck overnight, said Pennsylvania Turnpike spokesman Carl DeFebo.