A Powerful Winter Storm Has Killed At Least 9 People And Left Hundreds Of Thousands Without Power

The storm covered large swaths of the US in snow, slush, and ice, leaving a trail of deadly car crashes and widespread power outages in its wake.

Charlie Riedel / AP

A powerful winter storm that has killed at least nine people and left hundreds of thousands without power has moved on from the Midwest and is pulverizing the mid-Atlantic and East Coast, dumping inches of snow and prompting governors in the region to declare states of emergency.

On Sunday, the storm, which began Friday in the Midwest, slammed North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, DC, covering the nation's capital with between 4 and 7 inches of snow and forcing the three main airports in the region to cancel hundreds of flights.

Mike Theiler / Reuters

More than 180,000 people in North Carolina and Virginia lost electricity on Sunday afternoon, prompting governors of both states to declare states of emergency as the storm dumped dangerous snow and ice over the region. As of Sunday evening, Virginia state troopers said they responded to about 324 crashes on the slick, icy highways, which killed three people and stranded nearly 200 vehicles. Officials have urged drivers to stay off the roads until later Monday.

Around 4:30 am, units responded to a sand-truck that had overturned on North Kings Highway. Fortunately there were no injuries. The roads are still treacherous at this time - and will be for a while. Please stay off the roads if possible. #FCFRD #snow #fairfaxcounty

According to the National Weather Service, nearly a half-inch of ice blanketed parts of North Carolina, knocking over trees and power lines.

"Though the worst of the storm is over, conditions are still hazardous in areas that saw snow and ice," North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said in a statement.

Most of the major school districts across the area have canceled Monday classes.

.@NC_Governor Roy Cooper today declared a statewide State of Emergency to help utilities restore power quickly in western/central North Carolina, following power outages caused by snow, ice & freezing rain from this weekend’s winter storm https://t.co/gxr9goak31 #ncwx #ReadyNC

Over the weekend, the storm also snarled traffic in Missouri and Illinois, stranding hundreds of drivers for hours and causing a rash of deadly crashes. In Missouri, ice, sleet, and slush resulted in 800 accidents, authorities said, killing at least four people and injuring 57 others.

Officials in Illinois described crashes along the interstates, with cars trapped in ditches and on medians and ramps. On Saturday, State Police Trooper Christopher Lambert was on his way home when he stopped to help the people involved in a three-car crash in the suburbs of Chicago when another vehicle hit him, killing the 34-year-old.

"Trooper Lambert was a great trooper and was respected by those within and from outside the ISP, this is a tremendous loss which could have been prevented and should have never happened," Illinois State Police Director Leo P. Schmitz wrote on Facebook, mourning the loss of the five-year veteran. "Trooper Lambert deliberately placed his vehicle in a position to protect the lives of the victims of the previous crash, and took on the danger himself. He will be remembered for his dedication to the Illinois State Police and for giving the ultimate sacrifice to protect and serve the citizens of Illinois."

Tim Vizer / AP

Michael Fuehne (left) and David Fellner Jr. strain as they push Billy Brownlee's car out of a pile of snow after Brownlee went sideways while making a turn in Belleville, Illinois, on Jan. 12.

The storm also crippled power across the area, leaving more than 45,000 people in Missouri and about 24,000 others in Kansas in the dark.

Meteorologists said the storm should die down by early Monday morning, but not before blanketing a large swath of the eastern US in several inches of havoc-wreaking snow.