Late winter snowstorm blankets South, Northeast
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- A late winter storm blanketed the Northeast on Thursday after zipping across much of the South, leaving hundreds of drivers and their passengers stranded on highways in Kentucky and thousands without power in West Virginia.
By Thursday afternoon, a strong cold front moving across the eastern U.S. had dumped more than 20 inches of snow on parts of Kentucky, and conditions worsened in the Northeast as snow started to pile up, reaching 11.5 inches and counting in the northern Maryland community of Lineboro.
The massive snow in Kentucky left hundreds of people stranded on two major highways and National Guard members delivering them food or driving them to warming centers.
In New York, a flight from Atlanta carrying 125 people skidded off the runway at LaGuardia Airport while landing and crashed through a fence. Passengers carrying bags and bundled in heavy coats and scarves slid down an inflated chute to safety on the snowy pavement. No serious injuries were reported.
Schools, government offices and legislatures in the South and Northeast were shut down for what could be one of the last snow days at the end of a winter that's been brutal for much of the country.
The National Weather Service had winter storm warnings in effect from Texas to Nantucket, Massachusetts, and the forecast called for record cold temperatures in the same area on Friday.
Here's a look at what's happening:
STUCK ON THE ROAD
Authorities say that hundreds of drivers were stuck on two major highways in Kentucky, where snow totals topped 2 feet in some places. Many had to spend the night in their vehicles.
The National Guard was sent out to check on the people who were stuck, deliver them food and water and, in some cases, take them to warming centers.
Officials said more than 400 vehicles were stuck along Interstate 24 between the western Kentucky towns of Cadiz and Eddyville. Gov. Steve Beshear said that 200 were still stuck by midday Thursday. There was an even larger pileup involving some 200 tractor-trailers on Interstate 65 near Elizabethtown in central Kentucky.
In western Maryland, a tractor-trailer carrying 93 heads of cattle overturned Thursday on Interstate 81, which was already snarled by other accidents in the Hagerstown area.
A plane from Atlanta skidded off a runway at New York's LaGuardia Airport while landing Thursday, crashing through a chain-link fence and coming to rest with its nose perilously close to the edge of an icy bay.
The Delta flight veered off the runway at around 11:10 a.m., authorities said. Emergency responders were still assessing people, but any injuries appeared to be minor, the Fire Department of New York said.
The plane came to rest in several inches of snow.
Passengers trudged through the snow in an orderly line after climbing off the plane. Both the airport's runways are closed until further notice, which is standard procedure after such incidents.
Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines said the passengers were bused to a terminal. It said the airline will work with authorities to figure out what caused the crash.
The weather also meant cancellations of about 4,400 flights to, from, or within the U.S. on Thursday, according to FlightAware.
COLD HANGING AROUND?
Ryan Maue, a meteorologist at Weather Bell Analytics, said cities including Waco, Texas; Chicago; Memphis, Tennessee; and Cleveland should expect record cold Friday morning.
In some cases, the old records could be obliterated.
In Memphis, for example, the coldest temperature on record for March 6 is 20 degrees. The forecast is calling for a low of 11. And at northern Virginia's Dulles Airport, a forecast low of 7 would shatter the record of 15.
"This is amazing for early March," he said of the forecast Thursday-Friday, one-two punch of snow and cold.
For those awaiting spring, there's a hint of good news: Unlike the persistent deep-freeze experienced by much of the country in February, this one shouldn't hang around as long.
IS HIGHER FARE FAIR?
With the nation's capital under a snow emergency, cab rides are more expensive.
The D.C. Taxicab Commission said snow emergency status is in effect from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday. That means cabs could add a $15 surcharge to the metered fare. It's meant to entice drivers to keep working.
Washington came to a halt in other ways, too: Most of its food trucks turned off their grills for the day. But people in the city did have a few places to go as the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum and National Museum of American History stayed open.
POWER KNOCKED OUT
The storm knocked out power to 85,000 homes and businesses in West Virginia on Thursday. The northern and western parts of the state were hardest hit. Officials warned that restoring power could be difficult because of road closures from high water in many spots after heavy rains on Wednesday.
FALLING SHORT OF THE RECORD?
Bostonians might not get the snow they need to break a record.
This winter, the city has received 105.5 inches of snow - more than 8 1/2 feet, the National Weather Service said. The record is 107.6 inches recorded during the 1995-96 season. Records date to 1872.
But the current storm might not drop enough snow to reach the record, as little more than a dusting was expected in Boston.
Mulvihill reported from Haddonfield, New Jersey. Associated Press writers Bruce Schreiner in Shelbyville, Adam Beam in Frankfort, and Dylan Lovan in Louisville, all in Kentucky; Jeff Amy in Jackson, Mississippi; Jessica Gresko in Arlington, Virginia; and Laurie Kellman in Washington contributed to this report.