Ga. guardsmen speak with a Georgia State Patrol officer Feb. 12 at the scene of a recovery of a vehicle that slid off the road along I-20. (Sgt. Michael Uribe / National Guard)
ATLANTA — More than 300,000 homes and businesses were without power in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina as a fierce winter storm cut an icy swath Wednesday across much of the South.
The massive storm threatened to knock out power for hundreds of thousands more across the South before turning its sights on the Northeast. From Texas to Georgia and up into the Carolinas, roads were slick with ice. More than 100 million Americans are under some form of a winter storm warning, watch, or advisory, the National Weather Service said.
“The storm is on track,” weather service meteorologist Bruce Terry said. “That much freezing rain and sleet can be devastating. It will mean downed trees and power lines.”
Georgia Power was reporting more than 126,000 outages, SCE&G 94,000 and Duke Power more than 83,000 on Wednesday.
The small solace: As the storm heads north and east, ice will give way to snow. Washington, Baltimore and Philadelphia will see 4-8 inches of snow starting Wednesday night and all day Thursday, Terry said. New York and Boston can expect 3-6 inches. But areas north and west of all those cities could see a foot or more of snow before the nasty front rolls off the coast of Maine on Friday.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency said it was sending 155 power generators to Georgia and 95 to Pennsylvania, which just last week saw almost 1 million people lose power in a storm. FEMA also deployed liaison officers to the state emergency operations centers in Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Georgia and South Carolina.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has declared a state of emergency for 91 of the state’s 159 counties as ice from sleet, snow and freezing rain is expected to cause massive power outages. He said the National Guard opened 65 emergency shelters, and seven more were open at state parks along Interstate 20.
Va. National Guard to stage up to 300 for storm
RICHMOND, Va. — Up to 300 members of the Virginia National Guard and the Virginia Defense Force will be staged in central Virginia and along the Interstate 81 corridor to help respond to a winter storm.
The National Guard says the soldiers, airmen and Virginia Defense Force members are expected to be in place at readiness centers by late Wednesday afternoon.
Winter storm warnings and watches are in effect across Virginia from Wednesday afternoon through Thursday night.
The National Weather Service says parts of central Virginia could receive 8 inches to a foot of snow.
Up to a foot of snow also is possible in northern, southwestern and Southside Virginia.
Gov Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency Tuesday ahead of the storm.
Md. Guard preparing to help in winter storm
BALTIMORE — The Maryland Guard is ready to help during a snowstorm that could dump a foot of snow on parts of the state.
Gov. Martin O’Malley declared a state of emergency ahead of the storm on Tuesday. The Maryland Guard said Wednesday that up to 250 soldiers and airmen have been authorized for active duty to provide assistance.
Gen. James A. Adkins, the adjutant general, says in previous snowstorms, the Maryland Guard has helped stranded motorists and worked with local law enforcement and firefighters with transportation and evacuation.
Del. National Guard ready for winter storm
DOVER, Del. — As the state waited for a predicted snowstorm, the Delaware National Guard says it is ready to provide support.
Most of the state is under a winter storm warning into Thursday. The National Weather Service said Wednesday afternoon that several inches of snow could fall, possibly mixing with sleet or rain.
The Nation Guard says 120 soldiers and airmen, most of them vehicle operators, are available to help transport police and first responders, and help stranded motorists.
Command staff in operating armories are standing by to support emergency operations centers.
At the Air National Guard Base in New Castle, teams are clearing taxiways and ramps.
Winter storm puts Pa. in bull's-eye once again
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Winter-weary Pennsylvanians braced themselves Wednesday for another storm, with predictions of deep snow and high winds prompting warnings of widespread power outages just as service was restored to the last of the hundreds of thousands left in the dark after last week’s storm.
State Emergency Management Agency Director Glenn Cannon said 450 National Guard members were being called to duty Wednesday night and the state was preparing to activate its emergency operations center.
“I’m really concerned about the power grid in the southeast, given that it’s just been put back up,” Cannon said.