Interstate 81 is covered by snow early Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018, in Bristol, Va. A storm spreading snow, sleet and freezing rain across a wide swath of the South has millions of people in its path, raising the threat of immobilizing snowfalls, icy roads and possible power outages. (Andre Teague/The Bristol Herald-Courier via AP)

Carolina Snowstorm Impacts Flights Out Of Detroit Airport

Travelers are urged to check the status of their flights online

December 09, 2018 - 1:34 pm

DETROIT, Mich. (AP/WWJ) — A massive storm brought snow, sleet, and freezing rain across a wide swath of the South on Sunday — causing dangerously icy roads, immobilizing snowfalls and power losses to hundreds of thousands of people.

It is also impacting flights all across the country, as Charlotte's Douglas International Airport -- the sixth busiest airport in the country -- has canceled or delayed more than 1,000 flights on Sunday.

That has impacted at least 16 flights out of Detroit Metro Airport that were set to head in that direction.

Travelers are urged to check the status of their flights online with the airlines before heading to the airport. 

WWJ's Ingrid Kelley was at Detroit Metro Airport, where many fliers were concerned about cancellations. One man at the airport says he is fortunate his flight was not canceled, but he was still prepared, just in case.

"I checked before we got here and I gave myself enough time," Reginald Pedro said. "You have to prepare for these things. It's the way the world is now. The days of 'things should work for me' are done and it's the days of 'be prepared and ready.'"

Meanwhile, accidents on snow-covered interstates are causing major delays, hundreds of flights have been canceled and drivers in North Carolina and Virginia are getting stuck in snow or losing control on icy patches. Kids and the young at heart are taking advantage of heavy snow totals with snowball fights and snowmen.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper strongly urged residents to stay off the roads Sunday, asking drivers not to put lives of first responders needlessly at risk. Cooper said emergency crews, including the National Guard, had worked overnight to clear traffic accidents on major roadways. One tractor trailer ran off a road and into a river, Cooper said.

"Stay put if you can," Cooper said. "Wrap a few presents, decorate the tree, watch some football."

Governors and local officials in several states declared emergencies ahead of the storm crossing several Southern states, which is hitting portions of North Carolina and Virginia particularly hard.

Officials have warned residents to prepare emergency kits and staff off roads in impacted areas. Schools districts in North Carolina and Virginia have announced they'll be closed Monday.

The National Weather Service said a "prolonged period of snow" began late Saturday and would last until Monday in the region, with the heaviest snow expected in northwest North Carolina and southern Virginia. Forecasters have said some mountain areas of North Carolina could get up to 12 inches (30 centimeters) of snow or more.

Heavy rains also were expected elsewhere in other parts of the South, creating possible floods in coastal areas.

More than 300,000 power outages have been reported across the region with the majority of those - about 180,000 - in North Carolina, according to poweroutage.us. More than 82,000 were without power in South Carolina, while a total of about 75,000 outages were reported across Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.