Snowstorm that covered South heads off to sea

RICHMOND, Va. – A winter storm that crossed in a nearly straight line dumping snow, sleet and ice this week from northern Texas to Washington headed off the Atlantic coast early Sunday.

More than 5 inches of dry, fluffy snow was reported in Washington but was’finishing up by late Saturday night, said National Weather Service forecaster Matthew Kramar.

The storm left a wake of damage beginning in northern Texas and Oklahoma, where snow and ice shut down’interstates and snapped power lines to thousands of’customers.

It left roads icy and’snowpacked across the South, and thousands were without power as ice accumulated. Although police said they had to clear hundreds of wrecks’overnight, there were no deaths or serious injuries reported.

A central Tennessee woman was killed when a tree weighed down with ice crashed into her mobile home early Saturday, Maury County officials said.

In southern Maryland, one person was found dead after a house fire in Accokeek. Firefighters said they had a hard time’getting it to because of the snow. Prince George’s County fire department spokesman Mark Brady said the winter storm and snowfall made driving conditions hazardous.

In northern Virginia, the weather caused several’multi-vehicle crashes along Interstate 81 in Shenandoah County, Virginia State Police said. Four people were’hospitalized with non-life’threatening injuries.

The weather also cut short a farewell celebration Saturday at the National Zoo in Washington for young panda Tai Shan, who will be flown to China on Thursday to become part of a breeding program.

In Smyrna, Tenn., southeast of Nashville, a high school bowling tournament was’postponed after snow and ice caused the roof to collapse at the bowling alley where it was to be held, according to the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association.

Will O’Halloran, publisher of City Social Magazine in Baton Rouge, La., got caught in the storm in both directions during his monthly trip to pick up the publication from a printer outside Louisville, Ky. At one point, he thought his headlights were broken, only to find they were covered in ice.

‘People are crazy out there,’ O’Halloran, 49, said. ‘Cars’spinning, trailers jackknifed. I just tried to keep it at 40 mph and move along.’

North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue declared a state of emergency as some mountain areas got more than a foot of snow throughout the day Saturday. More than a dozen emergency shelters opened across the state, Perdue said.