Massive winter storm heads north after dropping rare snow on South — latest track, forecasts, updates


Residents across a huge swath of the U.S. were hunkered down as a massive winter storm packing snow, ice and high winds, followed by possible record-breaking cold, moved up the Eastern Seaboard. The worst conditions were expected from the Carolinas to Maine.

The massive storm began two days ago in the Gulf of Mexico, first hitting the Florida Panhandle. It has prompted thousands of canceled flights, shuttered schools and businesses and sparked fears of coastal flooding and power outages.

Wind gusts of 50 mph to 60 mph, strong enough to cause downed trees and power lines, are predicted in places where the National Weather Service has issued blizzard warnings. They include the Delmarva Peninsula, which includes parts of Delaware, Virginia and Maryland; coastal New Jersey; eastern Long Island, New York; and coastal eastern New England.

After the storm, a wave of bracing cold is forecast to hit much of the Northeast.

The storm dumped snow in Tallahassee, Florida, Wednesday — that city’s first snow in nearly three decades — before slogging up the Atlantic coast and smacking Southern cities such as Savannah, Georgia and Charleston, South Carolina, with a rare blast of snow and ice. 

Follow along with updates below as the storm works its way up the coast. All times Eastern unless otherwise indicated.

2:30 a.m. Amtrak train partially derails

Three cars of an Amtrak train heading from Miami to New York with 311 passengers on board derailed as the train tried to slowly back into the Savannah, Georgia station late Wednesday night, Amtrak tells CBS News. All three cars – a baggage car and two sleeper cars — stayed fully upright. There were no reports of injuries.

CBS Savannah affiliate WTOC-TV says frozen switches on the tracks forced the crew to stop the train and put it into reverse.

The train was expected to continue north, with some of the sleeping car passengers being transferred to a different train. 

12:13 a.m.: Storm passing over southeastern Virginia, northern North Carolina

Snow is tracking across Virginia’s Hampton Roads area and northern North Carolina, reported CBS affiliate WTKR meterologist Madeline Evans. Portions of the Outer Banks were only spot still seeing a mix of cold rain and some snow, and it will continue to transition into only snow overnight. 

Most of the area will see 8 inches to 10 inches of snow accumulation, with some spots possibly reaching a foot of snow, according to Evans. 

Snowfall will increase northward into portions of the Mid-Atlantic and northern New England early Thursday, according to the National Weather Service. Blizzard conditions are possible over eastern Long Island and portions of coastal New England, and also near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay and Hampton Roads.  

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan signed an executive order declaring a state of emergency for the shore areas, CBS Baltimore reports

10 p.m.: Philadelphia officials announce snow emergency

Philadelphia city officials announced that a snow emergency goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. ET on Thu., Jan. 4.

Managing Director Michael DiBerardinis says a snow emergency means all parked cars must be moved off snow emergency routes for plowing. Officials urge residents to park as far away from street corners as possible so that plows can easily turn.

For more information, visit this website. Cars left on snow emergency routes will be moved to other parking spots to assist in snow plowing operations. If your car is moved, call 215-686-SNOW to find it. Do NOT call 911.

9:45 p.m.: Nearly 35,000 people without power in the South

CBS News has confirmed that nearly 35,000 people in the South are without power as a winter storm crosses the region.

A look at websites monitoring outages show that Georgia is hit hardest with at least 17,000 customers affected.

However, many of the outages predate the storm.

8:37 p.m.: American Airlines cancels more than 600 flights Jan. 4

American Airlines announced that more than 300 flights were canceled for Wednesday and more than 640 flights have already been canceled for Thursday.

All depatures are canceled from Boston and Providence’s airports, American Airlines said. There are scattered cancellations from Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and New York’s airports.

7:50 p.m.: New York City cancels school

New York City is under a winter storm watch from late Wednesday through Thursday evening, CBS New York reports. A blizzard warning has been issued for Long Island’s Suffolk County and some coastal New Jersey counties, but New York City is not affected. 

How much snow the city gets depends on the track of the storm. CBS New York forecaster Lonnie Quinn reported the North American Model expects the storm to track closer to the west, bringing 8.8 inches of accumulation.

But the European Model, which tracks the storm 54 miles farther east, anticipates only 2.9 inches of accumulation for New York City.

Wind gusts of 35 mph to 45 mph are also possible.

New York City’s Department of Sanitation issued a snow alert starting at 6 p.m. Wednesday, meaning snow equipment will be ready to handle the winter weather.

7:05 p.m.: Deep freeze expected overnight in Florida

There will be a hard freeze overnight for many locations away from the immediate coast, CBS affiliate WJAX reports. Even the beaches will see a light freeze overnight.

Highs will be in the mid to upper 40s Thursday and another hard freeze is expected Friday morning.

In Tallahassee, the Suwannee County Sheriff’s Office Division of Emergency Management will be opening as a warming station for people to escape the cold, CBS affiliate WCTV reports


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