Massive winter storm in Southeastern and East Coast forces flight cancellations

A massive winter storm that left parts of the Southeastern United States in a deep freeze pushed up the East Coast on Sunday Dec. 8, with snow and ice snarling road travel and forcing another round of flight cancellations.

The storm system dropped between 3 and 6 inches (7.6 and 15.2 cm) of snow on West Virginia early Sunday before blanketing the Washington metro area with its first accumulation of the season.

Marching north, it was expected to pummel the East Coast with snow, sleet, and freezing rain from Baltimore to north of Portland, Maine, according to the National Weather Service.

Flights to and from Philadelphia airport were temporarily grounded, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

In the Northeast, the storm system closed in on New York City and could linger over the tri-state area through Monday morning’s rush hour commute.

An expected 1 to 3 inches of snowfall in Philadelphia and New York City would be the first of the season, and comes about 10 days earlier than the average first snowfall, according to the National Weather Service.

The blast of cold air and precipitation also brought light snowfall to the Midwest, including parts of Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin.

More than 2,500 flights were cancelled nationwide on Sunday, according to Flightaware. Airports in Newark, New York City, and Philadelphia reported delays.

More than 2,000 stranded passengers slept on cots and in chairs at Dallas-Ft. Worth airport on Saturday night, down from about 4,000 the night before, said spokesman David Magana.

Sunday evening, more than 1,000 passengers planned to stay overnight at the airport, Magana said. Airport officials provided tents for families with small children, as well as musicians, comedians, face-painters and balloon artists to amuse the stuck passengers, he said.

More than 400 scheduled Dallas-Ft. Worth departures were cancelled by mid-afternoon on Sunday.

North Texas was still shivering under below-freezing temperatures left behind after an ice storm knocked out power lines, leaving some 267,000 customers in without power at the height of the storm, according to utility provider Oncor.

The storm also battered Arkansas and Tennessee with ice, snow and zero-degree temperatures, leaving streets a slick and slushy danger zone.