The Latest: Washington area awakes to snow, wind, lightning

WASHINGTON (AP) — The latest on the blizzard slamming a large swath of the United States (all times local):

8:30 a.m.

Some areas in the Washington metro area woke up to nearly two feet of snow Saturday morning as a menacing winter storm bore down on the region and barreled east.

 In Silver Spring, Maryland, about 20 inches of snow was measured outside by daybreak. Lightning flashed and thundersnow rumbled after 6 a.m. Thick snow continued to fall steadily in light wind.

Plows cleared the snow from a heavily traveled road. Ambulances and trucks were able to get through, but few other vehicles were moving. A couple intrepid people walked along the cleared portion of the road, ducking into the deeper snow when vehicles approached.

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7:35 a.m.

A local TV reporter who was among the motorists stranded along Interstate 75 in Kentucky amid a snowstorm tells viewers from inside her news van that the experience has been crazy, with wind and snow building as drivers turn off cars to save gas.

Caitlin Centner of WKYT-TV (http://bit.ly/1PpjtXs ) went on air from the van Friday night. She’d been stranded for several hours and said the interstate had been closed because of crashes. She says: “Every time it looks like there’s light at the end of the tunnel, more accidents and slide-offs are occurring.”

Centner interviewed Rebekah Sams. She was stranded making her way to a volleyball tournament. Sams described snow blowing amid a complete standstill.

She says: “You never imagine yourself being out here for five hours during a snowstorm.”

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7:35 a.m.

Virginia State Police say they responded to nearly 1,000 traffic crashes as a fearsome storm blanketed the state with snow.

From midnight through 10 p.m. Friday, troopers responded to 989 crashes and 793 disabled vehicles. All told, state police dispatch centers fielded 3,471 calls during that period.

Spokeswoman Corinne Geller says the majority of the crashes involve damage to vehicles. Virginia recorded one storm-related death Friday in Chesapeake.

A trooper was injured Friday night while assisting a disabled vehicle on Interstate 64 in New Kent County. Geller said Trooper M.D. Jester is being treated for minor injuries in a Richmond hospital.

State police are advising motorists to stay off the roads with more winter weather on the way.

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7:35 a.m.

Utility companies in New Jersey are reporting that nearly 40,000 customers are without power, with the majority of those affected along the coast.

Atlantic City Electric customers have been the hardest hit with more than 32,000 without power. The outages come as a strong winter storm packing high wind and snow moves through New Jersey. The outages stretch from Barnegat Beach south to Cape May and as far west as Mantua.

First Energy, Jersey Central Power & Light, is reporting more than 7,600 customers without power, with outages along the coast from north of West Long Branch south to near Barnegat Light.

Gov. Chris Christie declared a state of emergency Friday night in New Jersey as a major storm threatens to dump up to two feet of snow on parts of the state and flood the coast.

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6:45 a.m.

Kentucky State Police say emergency crews are making their way to cars stranded along Interstate 75 in a major snowstorm with water, fuel and snacks.

The agency said early Saturday on Twitter that its crews and the National Guard are moving cars one at a time and that the Red Cross is establishing shelters for motorists. Police said no further traffic was being allowed on the road and cars were being diverted, but did not give more specifics or immediately answer phone calls and emails seeking comment.

It was unclear how many vehicles were stranded, but photos from local media outlets showed a long line of trucks and other vehicles lined up along the snowy road. State Police twitter updates and brief statements indicated the problem was near an exit at London, Kentucky — south of Lexington.

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5:57 a.m.

Kentucky State Police say emergency shelters are being opened near two exits along Interstate 75 for motorists who’ve been stranded by a mammoth storm that’s already dumped 18 inches of snow on portions of the state.

State Police officials tell Kentucky television station WTVQ (http://bit.ly/1Pu2rRP ) that southbound traffic was being diverted to Exit 76 in Berea, while northbound traffic was being diverted to Exit 41 in London.

A section of I-75 in Rockcastle County was closed twice during Friday afternoon and evening due to numerous accidents. It turned I-75 in both directions in Rockcastle and Laurel counties into a parking lot. Some motorists said they had been stuck on I-75 for 10 hours. The American Red Cross was providing food to stranded drivers.

The storm is moving eastward and could dump 2 feet or more of snow in some states.

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5:45 a.m.

Various storm warnings and watches remain in effect in several states as a mammoth winter storm that could dump 2 feet or more of snow in some areas continued to move eastward.

The National Weather Service’s website says blizzard warnings remained in effect Saturday for eastern and coastal portions of the mid-Atlantic, from mountain areas in Virginia to Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York City and Long Island, New York.

Winter storm warnings and winter weather advisories also remained in effect for a large area that extended from the Tennessee Valley to the Ohio Valley, and spanned from the Carolinas to southern New England. High wind warnings and watches are in effect for coastal regions in the mid-Atlantic and southern New England. Coastal flood warnings and watches are in effect from Virginia to Massachusetts.

Storm and gale warnings are in effect for mid-Atlantic and New England Coastal waters.

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5:12 a.m.

A mammoth storm that’s shuttered tens of millions of residents from northern Georgia to New Jersey already has dumped heavy snow in 14 states, including 18 inches in Kentucky, as it continues to move eastward.

The National Weather Service’s website early Saturday said 18 inches of snow had fallen on Ulysses in eastern Kentucky, while 16 inches fell in Beattyville. Between 14 inches to 15.5 inches had fallen in at other locations across Kentucky, including Frenchburg, Mount Vernon, Eglon and Lancer.

The Weather service says 7 inches of snow fell in Washington, D.C. while snowfall amounts in nearby Maryland ranged between 4.5 inches in Baltimore and 13.5 inches in Oakland. In Virginia, Reagan National Airport reported 6.8 inches of snow and Elma had 15 inches. Other states that recorded snowfall amounts greater than 6 inches included Delaware, Georgia, North Carolina, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia. Various locations in Georgia and Alabama received between 1 and 3.5 inches of snow.

Snow started falling Friday, but the worst was still yet to come, with strong winds and heavy snow expected to produce “life-threatening blizzard conditions” throughout the day Saturday.

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