Storm knocks out power, whips up tornado and causes hundreds of accidents in southeast US

A storm has dumped as much as 15 inches of snow in parts of the southeastern US – cutting power for nearly 250,000 people, sparking a tornado and causing treacherous road conditions.

Highway patrols said there had been hundreds of accidents on icy roads, and Storm Izzy is now threatening the northeast.

More than 1,200 flights from North Carolina’s Charlotte Douglas International airport were cancelled on Sunday, according to the Flightaware tracking website.

The storm cut power to more than a quarter of a million at one stage. Pic: AP
The storm cut power to more than a quarter of a million people at one stage. Pic: AP

The governors of Georgia, Virginia, and North and South Carolina declared state emergencies ahead of the extreme weather.

Electricity was cut to a quarter of a million people at one point, with North Carolina worst hit with 90,000 households disrupted, according to the site.

Highway Patrol in the state said they had attended 300 crashes and received more than 800 calls for service. Two people died on Sunday when their car hit trees east of Raleigh.

Meanwhile, a 118mph tornado ripped through a southwest Florida trailer park and destroyed 30 homes.

More on North Carolina

The National Weather Service said it was on the ground for almost two miles and had a maximum width of 115 metres.

Edward Murray, 81, told the Naples Daily News the tornado picked up his home and tossed it on top of his neighbour’s.

Many roads in North Carolina were covered with ice and snow. Pic: AP
Many roads in North Carolina were covered with ice and snow. Pic: AP

“That’s my house that’s turned upside down,” he said.

‘I told the devil it’s not today’

“The tornado took me off my feet, blew me toward the east wall and buried me under the sink, refrigerator, kitchen chairs and everything else.”

“I was so happy when I saw the sky,” he told the newspaper. “I said to the devil: ‘It’s not going to be today’.”

The highest snowfall as of 11pm on Sunday was 15.5 inches (39.4cm) in Flat Rock, North Carolina, according to the National Weather Service.

Gatlinburg in Tennessee received 11.2 inches (28.4cm) and there was 10 inches (25.4cm) in Clayton, Georgia.

Several states on alert

Next in the firing line is the US northeast.

Snowfall of more than one inch an hour is possible along and just west of the Appalachian mountains on Monday, forecasters warn.

West Virginia, western parts of Pennsylvania and New York state, and high elevations of New England are all on alert.

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