At least five killed and 300,000 without power as storm rakes south-east US

North Carolina and Pennsylvania had most customers without electricity while as much as 4in of snow fell in Ohio

More than 300,000 homes and businesses in the south-eastern US were without power early on Friday after a powerful storm raked the region. At least five people were killed.

North Carolina had the most customers without electricity on Friday, followed by Pennsylvania, according to the data website poweroutages.us. The outages matched states that were under high wind and winter weather advisories issued by the National Weather Service.

Forecasters warned that the storm system could bring gusts of 50 to 60mph from the Carolinas into New England, potentially toppling rain-soaked trees and making driving hazardous.

As much as 4in of snow fell overnight in Ohio, part of a band of snowy weather stretching from Tennessee to Maine. Blowing snow contributed to several accidents in the Akron area, and the Ohio department of transportation urged people to make room for nearly 1,300 state crews working to improve the icy conditions.

The weather destroyed mobile homes in Mississippi and Alabama, caused mudslides in Tennessee and Kentucky and flooded communities that shoulder waterways across the Appalachian region. Rain kept falling over a path of splintered trees and sagging power lines that stretched from Louisiana into Virginia.

School districts canceled classes in state after state as bad weather rolled through.

Up to 8in of snow was predicted in West Virginia, while Virginias governor, Ralph Northam, declared a state of emergency because of heavy rains and extreme flooding. More than 500 people in south-western Virginia had to be rescued from their homes amid flooding, he said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) warned that people residing near rivers and lakes should prepare for rapidly changing water levels. The TVA is managing rising water behind 49 dams to avert major flooding, but with more rain expected next week, the agency may have to release water downstream, said James Everett, senior manager of the TVAs river forecast center in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Authorities confirmed five storm-related fatalities, in Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina and Tennessee.

One person was killed and another was injured as high winds destroyed two mobile homes near the town of Demopolis, Alabama, the Storm Prediction Center reported.

The victim, Anita Rembert, was in one of the homes with her husband, child and two grandchildren, said Kevin McKinney, emergency management director for Marengo county. A man was injured but the children were unhurt, he said.

High winds there left roadsides strewn with plywood, insulation, broken trees and twisted metal. The National Weather Service was checking the site for signs of a tornado.

At least four people died in vehicles that were hit by falling trees or lost control in rain-slicked roads or floods. Authorities pleaded with motorists to avoid driving where they couldnt see the pavement.

A driver died in South Carolina when a tree fell on an SUV near Fort Mill, said Gary Miller, highway patrol master trooper. The drivers name was not immediately released.

In North Carolinas Gaston county, Terry Roger Fisher was killed after his pickup truck hydroplaned in heavy rain, plunged down a 25ft (8m) embankment and overturned in a creek, the North Carolina state highway patrol said, according to news outlets.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/feb/07/us-weather-report-storm-power-outages-deaths

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